Friday, May 27, 2011

So You're Going To A Concert...

I was recently asked what my concert "rules" would be.  After some thought, the following are some suggestions I have to help make everyone's concert-going experience a bit better.

  • If you're going to show up late, make sure you do so appropriately.  At concert venues like The Rave in Milwaukee, it's not really a problem to show up late.  People often move around to visit the bars, check out merch and whatnot, so it's not much of a disturbance.  Just be aware that you may not get the best view of the stage.  If you're attending a concert with assigned seats or visiting a nicer/less informal venue, try to be a bit stealthier.  Or, at minimum, make sure your entrance doesn't sound like a herd of elephants running from a giant pack of rodents.
  • Dress appropriately.  I remember getting dressed up (in some sense) for concerts when I was younger, so I get it.  But seriously?  Consider a few things when dressing for a concert:
    • No matter what you wear, the likelihood that the artist is going to see you and fall madly in love with you is slim to none.  It's nice to dream, but reality has to kick in sometime, kids.
    • You have to deal with whatever you choose to wear.  If it's 20 degrees outside and you're dressed up in a mini skirt and heels, I don't want to hear you complaining that it's cold.  (Of course it's cold!  Did you think you were going to be magically transported from your car into the venue?  Doubtful.)  Also, if you dress like a skank and get hit on all night, don't act surprised or grossed out.  You wanted the attention, you got it.  Basically, the moral is: You chose it, you live with it.  Period.
    • Hats are OK if you plan to stay toward the back of the crowd, but otherwise, just leave it at home.  You might think it makes you look cool or fit in with the crowd, but odds are someone is going to secretly hate you because your hat is blocking their view.  This goes for big hair, also.  
  • Being drunk is fine; being drunk and obnoxious is not.  I have no problem if you want to get a bit drunk and listen to some awesome music.  Have fun!  But once you reach the point of obnoxious, take my advice and stay by the bar.  If you start screaming, dry humping, bumping into people, etc, the likelihood that you're going home short a few teeth is going to increase.  Most of us paid to see the show.  If our experience is ruined because you just had to push your limits, we might just push back.  And if you're really so horny that you have to get it on RIGHT NOW, take it to your car.
  • If you aren't interested in the show, shut the hell up.  Maybe you're bored because you don't know the opening act or because you're "forced" to be there as a chaperone for your teenie-boppers.  It happens, I get it.  But that does NOT mean that you should try to have a full-blown conversation above the music.  Here's a shocker: People around you might actually be interested in what's going on!  I'm not saying everyone should be silent, but shouting to one another about the mundane details of your life isn't going to endear you to anyone.
    • As a side note to this, phone conversations at a concert aren't only rude, they're pointless.  The person on the other end of the convo probably can't understand what you're saying or hear you over the music/crowd/etc.  If your phone rings and you HAVE to answer, step into a stairway or something.  Shouting, "What?!  WHAT?!" into your phone is just as disruptive as shouting at the person next to you.
  • Last, but not least: Be appreciative.  Don't take any concert for granted; you never know if you'll get the opportunity again!  Artists are busy, and they have a lot of places they'd like to (or have to) be, but right then and there, they are playing for you.  Soak it in!  If you can't appreciate the work that goes into shows, then you're better off watching DVD specials and youtube clips.
What are your concert-going rules?  Anything vital that I missed?  Let me know!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Talking To The Moon

Despite a frustrating day of work (my internet connection was spotty all morning and part of the afternoon), yesterday was a good day.  The hubs and I grabbed some dinner at Chipotle (where the best tortilla chips in the world come from) and then headed to The Rave to see Bruno Mars.  

Here are a few notes from last night's concert:

Janelle Monae
The opener for Bruno was Janelle Monae.  Janelle is a small, eccentric woman with a beautiful voice and a style lost on most of the Milwaukee audience.  Hubby and I agreed that the instruments mostly overpowered Janelle's vocals (and were effing LOUD).  While I could tell she was singing, and that she has a great voice, I couldn't make out her lyrics 90% of the time.  Also, a lot of her "singing" was mostly a-lyrical, as best I could tell.  It was meant to show off her voice, which is great and all, but hard for an audience to get into.  

One fun thing Janelle did was a fantastic cover of the Jackson 5's "I Want You Back."  Honest to God, she rocked the hell out of that song.  Not only was it a major crowd-pleaser, her voice was a PERFECT match for a young MJ.  She also did a cover of "Smile" as sung by Nat King Cole (or, as many people know it, the Charlie Chaplin song) that was...  different.  I appreciated her using such a beautiful song, but again, it seemed like the point was merely to showcase her voice, not to connect to the song itself. 
Janelle also did something I'd never seen before: she painted while she sang.  Yes.  Painted.  As in, created a painting.  Nothing spectacular, mind you, but it was an interesting experience.  It was almost like watching her in a non-performance setting.  You could picture her at home, painting and singing, lost in her own little world.  It was a nice break from reality.

Bruno Mars
Bruno made the whole concert worthwhile.  He is fantastic to watch live!  He engages the audience, and in watching him perform, you know you're watching someone who absolutely loves what he's doing.  It was breathtaking to say the least.

It was a mixture of emotions.  Bruno started things off (donning a Harley-Davidson t-shirt and a fedora) by getting the crowd rev'd up (which included a lot of hip thrusting, some of which was in "slow motion"), asked them to put down their cameras and dance along to songs like "Runaway Baby" and "Liquor Store Blues" (which, of course, few did because this is the age of digital media; capture whatever you can, whenever you can).  Along with his own songs, he also played the snippets of other songs he's known for, like the chorus of Travi's "Billionaire" and his part in B.o.B.'s "Nothing On You."

Later, he chose a girl from the front of the audience to sing the last bits of a song to.  She didn't get to go on stage or anything, but the camera was on her, and she was one happy gal!  He wooed the audience with "Our First Time" and wowed us with some amazing a capella harmonies with his backup singers (who were much more like "along-side singers" since they were by no means confined to the background).  

One of my favorite parts of the night had to be when he informed us that the gentleman on stage with him was the voice you hear on the radio and on the album saying, "Oh my God, that was great," during "The Lazy Song" (who may be the same guy in the video, come to think of it).  Bruno took such delight in our reaction to this news, that he kept cracking up a bit, and actually made the audience quiet down so they could re-play that part of the song as proof.  It was excellent.

He ended his set with "Just The Way You Are," which was definitely a favorite.  As people began to file out, I looked for the tell-tale signs of an encore (instruments left on stage, lights not fully turned on, etc).  Sure enough, he came out to do an encore of "Talking To The Moon," my favorite of his songs.  I was almost in tears!  It was a perfect ending to the night.  :)    

The Rave / Eagle's Ballroom
For the first time ever, I decided to spring for the "VIP Balcony" tickets.  My reasoning was that there were bound to be fewer people up there, and it wouldn't be quite as crowded.  While that was technically true, it just wasn't what I was hoping for.

It was ridiculously hard to get a good view of the stage.  Unless you get there uber early and snag some of the balcony seats (of which there are surprisingly few), you're going to be standing.  Since we got there around 7:15 (the show "started" at 7, but Janelle didn't go on until 7:30 or later), we were in maybe the 3rd "row" of standing, so to speak.  I picked a spot where I had a shot of the stage and figured it was good enough.  Until some woman decided she was going to stand right in front of me.  I couldn't even get a good view of the massive screens they had set up!

There was nothing "VIP" about the experience.  I felt they oversold the balcony, so it was almost as packed as the main floor (fewer people, but also less space to occupy); and I would've been able to see the stage better from the main floor.  Totally not worth spending the extra $10-$15 a ticket (or whatever it was).  

The worst part about the whole thing came about 2/3 through Bruno's set: the drunk sluts.  Now, you may think this is harsh, but allow me to paint a picture for you.  

Hubby and I are enjoying ourselves, loving Mr. Mars and all he has to offer, and suddenly there are these girls behind us in shiny shirts, short skirts, and drinks in their hands.  They're not steady on their feet, and are saying things like, "Grenade!  Do Grenade!" and "I don't feel good..."  (Thankfully, the one who said that went away shortly thereafter.)  Then while Bruno's singing "Count On Me," a great song about friendship and being there for people you love, they're saying over and over, "I don't know this song.  Do you?  I don't know it."  (Maybe if you bought his CD and didn't rely on the radio to tell you what to listen to, you'd know it, bitch.)  

"Grenade" finally comes on, and the girls go nuts.  Their screaming was louder than the entire concert itself.  I actually had to cup my ears to block them out and concentrate on Bruno.  I turn to look at my husband and one of the girls is now making out with a guy (who, dear God, I hope was with them).  Not just making out, though.  Hardcore making out.  He had her wrapped around his waist and I thought they might swallow each other or fall over (or both).  During the course of this, they kept bumping into Hubby, who hadn't turned around to see what was going on and was less than pleased when I told him later.  Needless to say, it was nasty.  I've said it once and I'll say it again: if you just want to get drunk and have sex, go to a g-d bar.  People pay good money to be at concerts for the music, not to see some amateur porn.

Anywhoozles, I've also determined that unless someone else extremely fabulous comes to The Rave, this was probably my last show there.  It's just not my scene anymore.  I prefer smaller shows; or at least shows with seats that I can default to or room to move away from loud, drunken bitches...

So that, my lovelies, is my account of last night's show.  Ta da! 

Friday, May 20, 2011

Is It Rapture Time Already? (aka, "Beam Me Up, Jebus!")

Boy, time flies!  It seems like just yesterday we were saying goodbye to certain loved ones, preparing for them to be beamed up by the G-man himself because the world was clearly going to end in 2000.  

Actually, there have been a LOT of predicted Rapture experiences.  Check out this list on Wikipedia for all the previous supposed dates of Rapture.  Personally, I'm gonna go with Sir Isaac Newton on this one.  I'm thinking we've got a good 50 years at minimum before Jesus decides he wants to be saddled with the responsibilities sure to accompany (and follow) the Rapture.

In case you weren't aware, I'm not particularly religious.  Wait, that's an understatement.  I am NOT religious.  I'm what most people would probably categorize as 'agnostic.'  I'm pretty sure there's some kind of higher power out there, but I don't believe in any specific God-like figure.

Being a-religious was sort of hard on me growing up.  I remember being in 1st grade or so and a friend asked me if I prayed at night.  With sort of a sideways glance I told him that no, I didn't, to which he promptly replied, "Oh, well you're going to Hell then."  Lovely.  

6-year-old Erika kind of took this to heart (in other words, I was f*cking terrified) and tried this "praying" thing a few times.  Turns out it really just wasn't my thing.  I also completely missed the whole point of prayer, so it would go something like this:
"Dear God, I really want to get a good grade in Math.  And I REALLY wish I could fly.  I think I could, but I need some help, you know?  OK.  Amen."

In the following years, I started coming up with snarky responses to religion-based questions. 

"What church do you go to?"  "I attend the Church of Erika.  We meet Sunday mornings in my room and sleep."

"How come you celebrate Christmas?"  "Because my parents celebrate it."

"Why don't you believe in God?"  "Why don't you believe in dragons?"

Now, I've attended services at a few churches.  When I was a kid, I went to a Lutheran service with a friend and her family.  It was close to Christmastime, and I remember the music was beautiful, but the rest was so-so.  Later in life I sat outside of SEVERAL Catholic services between Girl Scout cookie booth sales.  Not my thing.  And when I was in high school, I went to a Presbyterian service with one of my best friends (the best of my church-going experiences).  It was pretty cool (they were a VERY accepting church, which was a new concept to me), but still just not my thing.

My parents once told me that they wish they would've raised me in a religion so I could choose what I wanted to do about it when I became an adult.  (I'm not sure how they would've accomplished this; Mom also grew up a-religious since my Grandpa is an atheist and Dad went to a Methodist church when he was quite young but also grew up mostly sans religion.)  

I'm actually thankful that they brought me up the way they did.  Sure, I miss out on some religious references now and then.  And for me, Christmas is about a fat guy with magic reindeer and Easter is about bunnies and chocolate.  But I'm not sorry for these things.  I take great joy in giving gifts every December and to this day I hunt Easter eggs at my parents' house!  And I don't need an antiquated book to tell me what's right or wrong; my parents' did that for me, and they did a wonderful job all on their own. 

So, all that being said, I wish all of you believers well in your journey to Heaven, however you may get there.  As for me?  I guess time will tell.  It'll be an adventure, that's for sure.     

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Cover to Cover

As we've already established, I'm a bit of a Gleek.  I have no issues admitting this, since it's part of who I am, and I can't really control what I like or don't like.

So while watching last night's episode, I couldn't help that I was practically drooling when Jesse showed up for a duet of Adele's "Rolling In The Deep" with Rachel.  Seriously.  My husband kept laughing at me because I couldn't take my eyes off the screen, and I was in my own little happy world of Glee-ness (which sounds dirtier than it is, I assure you).  

Of course I had to find the song on youtube this morning to indulge myself again, and found TONS of nasty comments on it.  "You have murdered this song, so let's murder Glee," one says.  Another says, "Ohh god..They Burned tortured and killed that song."  

Now hold on a minute, kids.  First, I have to tell you that I LOVE Adele and her original version of this song.  Her voice is amazing, and she rocks anything she sings in a big way.  But does that mean I'm not allowed to gush over the Glee version?

When I was a kid, I remember my dad telling me that if an artist or band did a cover of a song, they had better put their own twist on it, or else it wasn't worth doing.  Indeed, if all covers were done exactly like the original versions, there would be no point at all.  Booooooring.

And though the original version is better 99.9% of the time, remakes can be amazing, too (UB40's "Red, Red Wine" anyone?)!  The whole point of the cover is to take an already established song and breathe new life into it, or pay homage to it in some other way.  To compare an original and a remake is like comparing apples to oranges.  Sure, they're both tasty, nutritious fruits, but I love them both.  And there's nothing wrong with that.   

Are some covers crappy?  Abso-fucking-lutely.  Madonna's "American Pie" makes me want to gouge my eardrums out.  And while many have tried, there is no version of "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" that holds a candle to Judy's (though, I do love the version by Israel Kamakawiwo╩╗ole').  It happens.

So when someone says that Glee has "ruined" a song, I just have to wonder how they figure it has been ruined.  It's their own take on the song, and while you don't have to like it, it's just not right to say that it's terrible because it's different from the original version.


Monday, May 2, 2011

Disney References, Molestaches & Mexican Wrestlers

As you can probably (not) tell from the title of this post, it was a most excellent/interesting weekend.  Allow me to explain.

Disney References: Friday night and much of Saturday was spent studying for my Meteo final, which I took Saturday night.  Now, as I may (or may not) have mentioned, I am not a fan of the professor/instructor for this class.  Within the first few weeks, he put me off by seeming unfriendly and unwilling to accept criticism.  He also didn't give great answers to questions when they were asked (he was one of those, "Well, what do YOU think the answer is?" kind of teachers), nor did he do much in the way of feedback.  Boo.  

Anywhoozles, I started the exam on Saturday night after TONS of studying, and I actually had to give the prof some credit.  For one, the exam wasn't nearly as brutal as it could have been (it was cumulative for the whole semester, which made me think it would be the death of me).  Many of the questions were very straightforward (whereas questions on weekly quizzes had often been hard to follow or tricky), which was much appreciated.  But what really got me was one of the first questions.  I forget what the actual question was, but it was related to water, and it essentially asked, "The concept of blahblahblah relates to the idea that ____________."  Since all questions were multiple choice, I had 4 answers to pick from.  Fortunately, I knew the right answer, so when one of the possible choices was, "All drains lead to the ocean," I actually giggled.  All I could think of was Finding Nemo, and that helped me relax for the rest of the exam.  I got an A.  :-)

Molestaches: Sunday was a lazy day, since it was my first day being done with the semester.  I did almost nothing all day.  But last night was an event I had been looking forward to for a loooooong time.  Yes, my dears, I went to see Bowling For Soup!  They.  Were.  AWESOME!  Fortunately for us, Shank Hall is a smaller venue in the Milwaukee area, so it was a relatively small concert.  As such, a girl in the audience (near the stage) raised her hand.  "Um, we normally don't do Q&A, but what the hell!  What's your question?"  The girl then asked why the bassist had decided to grow a molestache (aka a mustache that makes one look like a molester).

Now, the poor guy wasn't feeling well.  He had almost no voice, but he didn't let it stop him from not only playing, but completely rocking out.  Instead of taking the blow of a potentially harsh insult, he actually retorted with, "Maybe you'll find out later."  I about pissed myself.  LOVED it.  

Mexican Wrestlers:  On our way home from the show, we went through part of downtown Milwaukee.  During this drive, my husband randomly said, "There's a Mexican wrestler over there."  I looked out my window and there was a group of 3 people walking, one of which had a Mexican wrestling mask on (along with the standard T-shirt and jeans attire of springtime in Wisconsin).  "Huh...  So there is!"  

Clearly, it was a fantastic weekend.  Well, aside from a whole day of studying on Saturday.  But still!  At least I got an A out of all that studying.  Booya!

Also, for those interested, Bowling For Soup was a great show to see.  If you get the chance, I encourage you to go!  Not only are their songs fun and full of energy, the band members themselves seem to have a great time on stage, which makes it even more fun for everyone involved.

Oh!  And before I forget, I am now one of a handful of people who can say that they learned of Bin Laden's death from Bowling For Soup.  Random, but awesome!