Music Monday: Who I’ve Seen Live The Most

As an avid concert goer, I often get asked what band I’ve seen the most.

With the show last night, I’ve now seen my favorite band Rise Against seven times. However, I’ve seen my other favorite band Senses Fail six times and by the end of the month, I will have seen Enter Shikari seven times as well. But I’ve been seeing Rise Against since 2011 and have many awesome stories about their gigs.

08/04/11 | UCSD Rimac Arena, San Diego, California: My very first gig was Senses Fail about a week before this show, but this one was extra special as it was my (16th) birthday present.

Like a lot of bands at the time, Rise Against was protesting SB1070 anti-immigration legislation by not touring in Arizona. When a tour with two other bands I like a lot, Bad Religion and Four Year Strong, was announced, I was devastated they were passing us by. Luckily, after a lot of pleading, my parents agreed that this show and a weekend in San Diego will be my big birthday present.

The morning of the show, my parents drove me and my best friend Sydney to San Diego, where we had dinner at my aunt and uncle’s house before heading to the venue at the university. Once we entered, Sydney and I went to the floor and my dad stayed in the stands. We had a great time watching the opening bands, especially when the lead singer of Four Year Strong made a shoutout to everyone who came to the show with their best friend before one of my favorite songs of theirs, “Wasting Time.”

I don’t remember too many specifics about the Rise Against set as it was so long ago, but I remember being really overwhelmed by all the movement in the crowd and deafening music. I was just trying to stay on my own two feet so I can take as many pictures as possible! All in all, it was a great concert and fun weekend.

28/09/12 | Mesa Amphitheatre, Phoenix, Arizona: Me and Sydney couldn’t believe it when they announced a tour coming to Arizona! Additionally, my brother Ryan had gotten into them. My dad drove the three of us up to Phoenix for the concert early in the morning. There, we met my friends who were waiting in the queue. Rise Against announced a signing at a local record store, which we were all planning to go to, until they moved the time up to half an hour before the doors to the venue opened. Not wanting to risk it, my friends stayed behind to secure a spot in the front for the show, by Sydney, Ryan and I took our chances, hoping our friends would still be outside the venue holding our spots once we got back from the signing.

We waited in the heat all afternoon until the signing where my friend Matt met us. To keep things moving, the store limited the items that band could sign to one. Although I brought several CDs, I chose to get their second album, Revolutions Per Minute signed. When it was my turn, I shakily handed my CD to them, gave them each a gift of a painting of themselves, shook their hand and was hurried along. Although our encounter was brief, I was on cloud nine!

Continue reading “Music Monday: Who I’ve Seen Live The Most”

Music Monday: Going to Gigs Alone

I’ve been to a fair few gigs and a handful of them have been alone. In this post, I will weigh the pros and cons of going to gigs alone.

My favorite thing about going to gigs alone is that I can do my own thing. I don’t have to worry about losing my friends in the crowd and I can get there when I want and hang out until the wee hours of the morning. In this, I can also meet new people, usually others going to concerts alone, as well.

On the other hand, something I like about going to gigs with someone else is the general companionship of a friend: someone to get excited with, share the experience with and talk about it afterwards with. Also, having someone to talk to between bands and before the gig is a good way to pass the time!

On Enter Shikari’s Take to the Skies ten year anniversary tour, I went to two dates: one with my friend Tim in Riverside, California and one alone in Phoenix. For the California date, Tim was nice enough to give me a ride, supply the drinks and we both got excited over the gig together. He was also the one who got the band’s attention on Twitter before the gig so we could give them a fan book I made. Although Tim and I lost each other inside (he was towards the front and I was in the mosh pit), we cross paths a few times and easily found each other after to talk about the show from where we were in the crowd and our favorite moments. Thankfully, Tim is just as into the band as I am, so he was more than happy to wait after the show to speak with them, which sometimes isn’t the case. We had a great time with each other, the band and meeting other fans.

A few days later, I went to the Phoenix date of the same tour alone. I arrived as the doors were opening, hoping to see the Enter Shikari band members during the openers. Before Enter Shikari, I had a good conversation with a couple, which probably wouldn’t have happened if I was with a friend. The actual performance experience was about the same: excellent, except for the fact that I sprained joint in my collar bone that night. Like the California show, I hung out after and got to talk to some of the band members again.

Both shows were great in their own ways and I usually don’t mind going to gigs alone, but it’s definitely preferable to go with someone, especially someone as awesome as Tim! I’m looking forward to going to a lot of upcoming gigs with my roommate Diego and a few other friends, including Enter Shikari twice again.

Music Monday: Ten Covers by Rock Bands

For this installment of Music Monday, I’ve decided to talk about a select covers (in no particular order) made by rock (including post-hardcore, alternative, metal, pop punk… basically anything remotely resembling rock) bands I listen to.

Disclaimer: I did not consider any Punk Goes… albums. I much prefer it when bands cover songs in their own work rather than on a compilation. However, Boston Manor’s cover of “Heathens” (originally by Twenty One Pilots) from the latest Punk Goes Pop is worth checking out.

“Holy Diver” covered by Killswitch Engage (originally by Dio): Killswitch Engage was one of those bands I worshiped as a preteen. These days… not so much. But this cover is incredible nonetheless. Like a lot of these, my young, naive didn’t know this was a cover until someone told me, in this case, it was my dad. I feel this cover has more soul in the vocals and more engaging instrumentation  than the original.

“Enjoy the Silence” covered by Lacuna Coil (originally by Depeche Mode): This is another band I loved as a pre-teen but don’t actively listen to anymore. This version is not far from the original, replacing the electronic beat with a slight metal twist and female lead singer.

“Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” cover by Muse (originally by Frankie Valli and The 4 Seasons): The jukebox musical Jersey Boys was at my work a few years ago and I loved it! I have listened to the soundtrack more times than I can count and thought the movie was a good tribute to the band and musical. Nothing compares to the selected ensemble in the original, but Muse does a good rock take on it and Matt Bellamy’s voice is especially sexy in this song.

Continue reading “Music Monday: Ten Covers by Rock Bands”

Music Monday: Top Ten Rise Against Songs

I’m going to start doing a (more or less) random music-related post every couple of Mondays for Music Monday!

Yesterday, I saw my favorite band of over a decade, Rise Against, for the sixth time at Ak-Chin Pavilion in Phoenix. With that, here are some of my favorite songs by them (in no particular order):

“Everchaging”: Among the raw punk tracks of their first album, this is a bittersweet ode to love and loss and how neither are a straight path. This song is so emotional it literally leaves me breathless (even when I’m not singing along at the top of my lungs driving in my car…). This song has recently gained an extra special place in my heart as at one of their gigs, the lead singer, Tim, and I shared a moment where we screamed the last, “And you can’t leave me if I’m already gone” together.

Six Ways ‘Til Sunday“: A youthful anthem with an outro that will have you dancing in your seat (or where ever you’re at, really).

“Blood-Red White and Blue”: I used to cite Heaven Knows as my favorite song off this album (Revolutions Per Minute) and although that song still means a lot to me, “Blood-Red White and Bluegoes so hard. It is my favorite song to watch live in front of a massive audience at Germany’s Rock AM Ring off their documentary “Another Station, Another Mile” (sound familiar?). I was blessed enough to see this song live at the intimate gig I mentioned in the previous paragraph and it was amazing! Rise Against has had a strong hand in my political thought, introducing me to the quote, “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism” and taught me how to question capitalist institutions such as factory farming and racism. My favorite political lyrics of theirs come from this song: “Would God bless a murder of the innocents? Would God bless a war based on pride? Would God bless a money-hungry government? No! Would God bless our ineffective court system? God bless the sweatshops we run. God bless America, God bless America.”

Continue reading “Music Monday: Top Ten Rise Against Songs”

Music Challenge

I’ve seen a 30 Day Music Challenge popping up and I thought I’d join the fun! However, I don’t want to flood your e-mail with daily posts, so I’m doing it all in one go:

  1. A song you like with a color in the title:Out of the Black” by Royal Blood
  2. A song you like with a number in the title:187” by Senses Fail
  3. A song that needs to be played loud:Destabilise” by Enter Shikari
  4. A song that makes you want to dance:G.U.Y.” by Lady Gaga
  5. A song to drive to:Would You Be Impressed?” By Streetlight Manifesto
  6. A song that is your guilty pleasure:Hollaback Girl” by Gwen Stefani (although the pleasure is not guilty whatsoever)
  7. A song you used to love by now hate:Strange Love” by Abandon All Ships (now this, I’m ashamed of)
  8. A song that is currently stuck in your head:What’s Up” by 4 Non Blondes
  9. A song that holds a lot of meaning to you:Guernica” by Brand New
  10. A song that you’re currently obsessed with:Get Fucked Stud” by Biffy Clyro
  11. A song by your favorite band:Dead Ringer” by Rise Against
  12. A song that reminds you of your partner:Surrender” by Billy Talent
  13. A song about drugs or alcohol:Double Vision” by Foreigner
  14. A song that makes you happy:Super Trouper” by ABBA
  15. A song that reminds you of somewhere:Better Life” by Conditions. I was going through a hard time when I was traveling through Italy and when I listened to this album in Positano, it really helped.
  16. A song that makes you sad:When You Were Young” by The Killers
  17. A song that you never get tired of: Misery Business” by Paramore
  18. A song from your preteen years:Boulevard of Broken Dreams” by  Green Day
  19. One of your favorite 80’s songs:Rebel Yell” by Billy Idol. Fun fact: he went to Sussex University! (for a semester…)
  20. A song that is a cover by another artist:Holy Diver” by Killswitch Engage
  21. A song you’d sing a duet with on karaoke:Any Way You Want It” by Journey
  22. A song from the year you were born:Bullet With Butterfly Wings” by The Smashing Pumpkins
  23. A song with a person’s name in the title:Hey, Johnny Park!” By Foo Fighters
  24. A song that everyone should listen to:The Game Needed Me” by Minus the Bear
  25. A song by a band you wish were still together:Mr. Owl Ate My Metal Worm” by Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows
  26. A song by an artist with a voice you love:Watch Me” by Icon for Hire
  27. Your favorite song this time last year:In Exile” by Thrice
  28. A song that reminds you of yourself:Oh No!” by Marina and the Diamonds
  29. A song that you remember from your childhood:Scar Tissue” by Red Hot Chili Peppers
  30. A song that you hear often on the radio:That’s What I Like” by Bruno Mars. I don’t listen to the radio much, but when I do, Bruno Mars is just about the only artist I enjoy.

Note: this is a queued post.

Best “It’s Always Sunny…” Episodes

I have seen most of the episodes of It’s Always Sunny… more than I’d care to admit. Here is the end-all be-all list of the best of the best by season:

Disclaimer: this post may contain spoilers.

Charlie Wants an Abortion (season 1): Charlie uses a son he didn’t know he had to get closer to The Waitress, but it doesn’t go as well as he hoped. Mac joins the pro-life movement to pick up women and convinces Dennis to join him. This episode was the first one to really rope me in, establishing superior dry humor.

Dennis and Dee Go On Welfare (season 2): Dennis and Dee apply for welfare as a new source of income while Frank exploits those on welfare for his own gain. This episode spirals quickly out of control when Dennis and Dee get addicted to crack to prove they’re eligible for welfare and Charlie and Mac spend all of Frank’s money. This episode is the epitome of the ridiculous situations the gang gets into and how quickly and hilariously they can escalate in each half hour episode. (honorable mentions: The Gang Gives Back, The Gang Exploits a Miracle)

Continue reading “Best “It’s Always Sunny…” Episodes”

April In Review

April was a mad one! Where did the time go?

After a two weeks of exams and projects, I went home for Easter for my first full weekend off in ages. While at home, I did homework, hung out with my family and went out on the town for the first time with my best friend Sydney. We had a great time hitting several clubs and bars in downtown Tucson.

The next week, I came back to university to go to class (of course) and work. We had An American in Paris at Gammage, which is mostly dance. The story is weak, but a lot of people seemed to enjoy the dance (I didn’t get to see much of it, personally). I couldn’t work every show because it was also a busy weekend at my other job at the School of Music. There were several theater events, including the student Lyric Opera Theater production of Shrek: The Musical and other miscellaneous dance events, so we needed pretty much all of the employees on. My boss at the School of Music, who also works at Gammage, was nice enough to compromise and only have me work Friday and Saturday so I could work at Gammage on Sunday (where I make more money and get fed!).

Continue reading “April In Review”

Top Ten Films

My favorite movies are changing all the time (they have turned over completely in the last few years), but here are some of my current favorites.

Disclaimer: this post may contain spoilers.

Across the Universe (2007): I will often cite this as my all-time favorite movie. It is a musical movie with Beatles music that takes you on a journey of a young British man who falls in love with an American girl and their trials and tribulations as the Vietnam War breaks out. Available to stream on U.S. Netflix.

Oldboy (2003): This has come to be my favorite action movie. I hope you don’t mind reading because it’s a Korean film, but don’t let that deter you from its amazing plot: a man gets held captive for fifteen years and must figure out why as he plans his revenge on his captor. Available to stream on U.S. Netflix.

Dumb and Dumber (1994): A classic slapstick comedy starring Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels where two (for lack of a better word) idiots venture across the country to return a mysterious briefcase to its rightful owner.

The Shawshank Redemption (1994): Young banker Andy Dufrense adjusts to life in prison with his inmates, violent guards and sketchy warden.

Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001-2003): Because who could pick just one? Unassuming Frodo ventures to destroy the all-powerful One Ring while all of Middle Earth wages war to inherit it.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004): In the middle of a procedure to erase an ex-girlfriend (Kate Winslet) from his memory, Joel Barish fights to keep the memories of their relationship.

Memento (2000): “Have I told you about my condition?” Leonard (Guy Pearce) tries to find his wife’s murderer while suffering from short-term memory loss. “One story line moves forward in time while the other tells the story backwards revealing more each time.” I’ve seen it about a dozen times and I’m still not sure if I understand it. Available to stream on U.S. Netflix.

The Princess Bride (1987): Another classic comedy that it the epitome of my dry humor. Princess Buttercup dreads her arranged marriage to Prince Humperdink while her true love, Wesley, fights to get her back.

Donnie Darko (2001): Misfit Donnie struggles with a mental illness that causes his life to spiral into a series of events that defy space and time. (Those who have seen it know it’s impossible to describe the plot, just watch it.)

Legally Blonde (2001): ‘It’ girl Elle finds her life turned upside down when she follows her ex-boyfriend to Harvard to win him back. Elle must navigate the nuances of law school, new friends (or lack thereof) and her romantic troubles. This is a fun, empowering comedy for a girl’s night in.

Honorable mentions: Forrest Gump, Changeling, The Truman Show (if you haven’t guessed, I love Jim Carrey), Whiplash, Vacation and The Grand Budapest Hotel

Top Ten Television Shows

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: A raunchy comedy show about five self-absorbed, ignorant friends who find themselves in ridiculous situations that more often than not get worse through improvising (comedy).

Arrested Development: As the opening narration says, “the story of a wealthy family who lost everything and the son who had no choice but to keep them all together” (comedy).

Jane the Virgin: A story of how Jane gets accidentally artificially inseminated with a wealthy hotel owner’s sperm and how she navigates school, relationships and family with this pregnancy. This “American telenovela” always keeps you on your toes with romantic, backstabbing and criminal twists around every corner (drama/ comedy).

Friends: If you don’t know what this show is, I don’t know what to tell you (comedy).

Parks and Recreation: Resilient Leslie Knope is determined to make the most of her career in the Parks and Recreation department and her personal life alongside fellow government officials (comedy).

Breaking Bad: When an overqualified high school chemistry teacher is diagnosed with cancer, he teams up with a former student to cook meth in order to leave behind money for his family (crime/ drama).

Peep Show: Inexplicably awkward Mark and incompetent, lazy Jeremy are roommates who often find themselves in unfortunate situations together, shown through the first person perspective (comedy).

Malcolm in the Middle: Gifted Malcolm “tries to survive with his dimwitted, dysfunctional family” of a pushover dad, disciplinary mom and four mischievous brothers (comedy).

Black Mirror: “A television anthology series that shows the dark side of life and technology” (drama).

Rick and Morty: An animated show about young Morty and his alcoholic, genius grandpa Rick and their adventures through time and space (comedy).

My Best Gigs

I love going to gigs to see my favorite bands play, meet new people and enjoy the atmosphere. I attend about one a month (on average) and with my recent travels, I’ve gotten to see some bands abroad (check out my United States vs. United Kingdom gigs post). Needless to say, I have a few gigs that have really stood out in my mind over the years.

Enter Shikari (March 2016): While I was abroad, a British band called Enter Shikari did a United Kingdom tour as well as a mainland Europe tour. I was lucky enough to experience two of their gigs on this tour; one in their hometown of London at a venue of about 10,000 people, and a much smaller show outside of Venice, Italy about a month later. They were both incredible shows, the London show had amazing visuals and great energy, but when I listen to their music today, it’s the Italy show that resonates with me. The venue was a lot smaller, so I got to meet them at the merchandise booth and caught them in the crowd watching the opening act nonchalantly. Although this show didn’t have the same visuals as the London show, the performance was much more intimate, with band members coming out into the crowd (guitarist Rory is the featured image and was actually taken at this gig) and really being able to feel a connection to the music. I dare say this is my favorite gig of all time. You can read more about it in my Italy post and more about the London show in my Great Britain exploring post.

Lady Gaga (July 2014): I was hired at a Broadway theater on my university’s campus as an usher in my second year and since I wasn’t up to much that summer, I decided to go up for a week to work a tour. On my day off, I got to see Lady Gaga in Phoenix. My friend Brett and I bought nosebleed tickets, but while waiting to go up to our seats, we were offered free floor tickets (I have no idea why they offered them to this day)! I quickly ran outside and sold our other tickets and made our way to the general admission floor. That show was unlike anything I had ever seen: dancers, confetti, outfit changes, crazed fans who dress up and throw gifts on stage, it was all so incredible! She is such a talented woman (which she proved in some impromptu a cappella bits during the show) with a good heart.

Brand New (August 2015): When I visited New York, my friend Nick and I (and two other acquaintances) drove four hours from Yonkers to just outside of Cooperstown to see Brand New. It was a small outdoor festival of sorts with food and drink, placed in what can only be described as the middle of nowhere. The openers were great, Brand New played a great set and to top it all off, the weather was perfect and the night ended with fireworks. You can read about the Brand New gig in full in my New York post.

Rise Against (April 2015): Of course, I couldn’t make this post without including a Rise Against gig. I’ve seen them four times, but the third time I saw them was the best. It was in Mesa at a small festival for a local radio station. Despite what some people might think, a lot of big name bands come for all sorts of Arizona festivals. During the day, I got to meet Rise Against at a signing, where I gave them a watercolor painting I made in high school of their first album and in return, they signed all my albums. I was on cloud nine, I’ve only been that happy in my life a handful of times! To top it off, their set was incredible. Although I crowd surfed and moshed a fair amount, I could always find my friends again.

Senses Fail (September 2014): I’ve seen Senses Fail more than any other band, probably about eight or nine times, now. This was the last show I saw them headline at, which was their 10th anniversary tour for their album, Let It Enfold You. I bought a VIP pass, so I got to meet the band and get all my albums signed. I also got front and center for their long and sweaty set. They played the album in full as well as about ten other songs. It was such a small room, when it steamed up, you had trouble seeing your hand in front of your face. I remember literally wringing out my shirt after their set. Despite sweating out my body weight, it was still an incredible show.

Foo Fighters (July 2015): I like Foo Fighters, but they’re not my favorite band in the world, but they were my (now ex-) boyfriend’s. For Christmas, I got Colin and I tickets to see Foo Fighters in Toronto when I spent the summer in Ontario. The lead singer, Dave Grohl, broke his leg a few weeks prior, but had a throne constructed so he can keep his leg level and still be able to play the rest of the tour. The Foos are really dedicated to their fans, so much so that they played for literally hours to make sure everyone got their money’s worth! They’re talented, great people and you can read more about the gig here.

I’m thankful for all the amazing bands I’ve seen and met all over the world and I’m looking forward to finally seeing one of my long time favorite bands later this month: Blink-182!