Saturday, July 23, 2011

Let's All Skank!!

Dang...yet another super-eventful week!! Actually, I guess it's been two since I've actually told you what has been going on, but I can only remember back a few days.

I was gonna write a post outlining each day of the week, but I can already tell that'll just be too freaking long. I will, however, tell you about the new guitar I got!! I know a dude who owns a weird memorabilia store that's about an hour away from where I live. He had this AMAZING vintage guitar there that I fell in love with upon first sight. I decided I would bring my rarely-played hollowbody bass guitar in there, and offer a trade.

Sadly, on the day I brought the bass down, he was in the back room, playing the vintage guitar for the last time before he sold it. To someone else. Argggggg. I still sold my hollowbody bass, and made $130 off it, more than doubling what I bought it for, all broken and whatnot. I made sure to ask for more than the other guitar was priced, just in case the sale fell through.

And what do you know, it did! My mom got a text that morning, saying the dude didn't buy the guitar after all. Guess what he bought instead?? My bass!!! Crazy coincidence, eh? Needless to say, I headed back there that day, and bought the super-amazing guitar. So far, it hasn't disappointed!!

It's a hollowbody as well, but this one's a six-string. It's a Penncrest, which was basically the J. C. Penney brand of guitar, made by Kay guitars. It has a Bigsby-style vibrato arm, and a little lever-thingy that will palm-mute the strings. It sounds delightfully echoey, and it feeds back very nicely. that I've raved about guitars, we can move on to the next item of business. Tanner, of blogging fame (his post about the same thing I'm writing about), as well as our friends Damien and Cheyenne, have been planning on going to see Reel Big Fish and Streetlight Manifesto for quite a while. Of course, upon hearing about their plans and noticing that there would be an extra seat available in whatever car was taken, I had to ask if I could go. Long story short, that concert was on Thursday!! It was at Clutch Cargoes, an excellent venue in Pontiac. RBF and Streetlight co-headlined, with two opening bands: The Maxies, and Rodeo Ruby Love. The Maxies went first, and they were pretty freaking sweet. They were a violent, mean punk band, FROM GREENLAND (as they reminded us in every song.) Damien pretty much immediately pushed his way to the front of the crowd to skank (ska music's trademark dance), and the resulting skank pit quickly turned into a mosh pit. I hopped right in, and held my own pretty damn well.

The next band, Rodeo Ruby Love, was a nice, relaxing indie band with love songs and a synthesizer. They were nice, although they didn't fit in with the rest of the bands and got booed a little. I liked them, even though they were hard to hear at times.

Towards the end of their set, the crowd started packing back in. In a few minutes, my (probably) favorite ska band took the stage: Reel Big Fish. The crowd immediately started rocking back and forth, and it was *almost* frightening. I realized pretty quickly, however, that if I fell over I'd probably be able the just catch myself on one of the people less than 6 inches away on all sides. As the music started, the moshing began. Now, you might not realize this, but I like to consider myself a bit of a punk. Yes, I have long hair and I listen to mellow, happy music, but inside of me is a leather-clad punk that just wants to slam-dance and mosh the night away. And boy oh boy did I.

Within five minutes of RBF's set starting, I saw Damien go floating by on top of the crowd. At that point, I decided I MUST crowd-surf!! I asked him how he got up there next time I bumped (slammed) into him, and he told me to just shout at the people around me, "I'm going up!!" Apparently, they'll give you a boost. And they did!!! It was EXHILARATING. The crowd's hands were surprisingly gentle, and it was so incredible to look out and see the entire venue underneath me. I went up again during Streetlight's set, and almost got dropped (still amazing!)

Ahhh, the time Reel Big Fish left the stage, I was kind of exhausted. I went and paid 3 bucks for one of their waters, which I immediately downed. At this point I should mention Thursday was the hottest day of the year, and it was around 100+ degrees on the floor. I was drenched with sweat, and all my clothes were soaked completely through. People on the balconies kept throwing water and ice down into the crowd, and it was WELL APPRECIATED. Damien observed taking off your shirt lowered your body temperature by about 20 degrees, despite making you look like a tool. Actually, almost everyone in the audience was shirtless by the end of the show, including some of the women. When I took off my shirt, I seriously wrung out about a gallon of sweat and water. Dis-gusting, hahaha!

After the show, Tanner was kind enough to buy me a T-shirt. He's kind of my hero now, of course! I am now the proud owner of a Streetlight Manifesto shirt! He told me to repay him when we go to see The Flaming Lips. Cause, ya know, it'll happen eventually!

All in all, it was a freaking amazing concert. I came home covered in bruises, and my feet hurt so bad by Saturday that I could barely walk, but it was amazing! I need to go to many, many more ska concerts with the crew.

Well...I have another story about the next day, Friday, but I'll make that my next post so I can share all the videos! (spoilers much??) Until then, try to go to an awesome concert!! Then blog about it so I can live vicariously through you!!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Obligatory Chicago Post: Pt. 3

Ahhh, we move on to Sunday, the second day of the DMB Caravan (technically the third, but I wasn't there on Friday)!! It was the most excellent day as far as music goes, although work was a bit harder.

See, Sunday was far hotter than Saturday, as well as way more oppressively hot and humid. Also, the concert-goers were somewhat annoyed with us, because for 3 days we'd been bugging them. All their money had gone to beer, and they didn't want to hear about some sticker. Still, we sold more on Sunday than Saturday! It kind of got confusing, though, because when I turned in a portion of our money to the organizers, I accidentally gave them some of my own money. Then, to make things worse, we counted the stickers wrong, so I thought I'd given them considerably more money than they were owed. Eventually, after nearly having a breakdown in the intense heat, I realized I had only given them $5 - as much as 1 sticker cost, which I would've eventually given them anyways. Still, after that incident, we just stopped selling them for the last hour. We sat in the mulch, got Cokes, and watched The Wailers play.

After our shift ended ("ohh, you didn't sell anymore? That's a bummer!"), we went and watched a mariachi band. Now, I'm not a huge fan of mariachi music - although it HAD been blasting all around the house we stayed at, all weekend. No, we went there because the next band that was playing there was important enough to me for us to stand around an hour early, just to get an amazing place to stand. Yes, that's right: THE FLAMING LIPS!! And get an amazing place to stand we did; we were only about 4 people back from the stage. Just so you get an idea, here's the road crew and band setting up the stage:

Crazy close, right?? The dude in the silver pants on the right was the guitarist/theramin player, and the guy you can just barely see on the left was the guitarist/keyboard player.

Wayne Coyne kept coming out onto stage, waving and staring intently at various things. Despite the 90+ degree heat, he had on a fur stole. Weird? He shot a confetti cannon at the audience at one point, and apparently tested the wind. (You know, for FUTURE confetti cannons.)

Finally, after about an hour of standing there, the show began. Wayne came out while the band was finishing up with testing their equipment, and said that they'd be covering Dark Side Of The Moon in its entirety, along with a few songs from The Wizard of Oz mixed in for good measure. But first, of course, he had to roll out on top of the audience in his giant plastic bubble!!

Yeah, I totally caught the bubble. He basically throws himself against the crowd, and it HURT to catch him!! I thought I had thrown my shoulder out at first. Also, that was the beginning of the literal crush of society that was the concert. I thought it was kinda cool, though - except during the song "Money."

At the beginning of that catchy tune, he brought out a huge, 10 ft. balloon, with a huge dollar sign on it. Inside, floating around, were bills of some kind. Upon closer inspection, it was all real money - lots of it!! He lectured the crowd about greed, and how "You shouldn't lust after this shouldn't trample your friends, for such a minor amount!" Yeah, that "minor amount" was supposedly $10,000, gifted to us by Dave Matthews himself. With that said, the band kicked off the song and he flung the balloon into the crowd. There were actually a bunch of balloons just like it back stage, each with money in it, and he kept throwing them at us. It was quite terrifying - with each one, the crowd lurched around and moved collectively towards it. One popped right above me, and people around me got money; I saw one dude stuffing a $20 into his wallet!

The whole concert was INSANE. Words cannot describe it accurately, despite my attempts. There were about 30 girls, all dressed like Dorothy, all dancing onstage. Joining them, there were very stoned dudes in costumes representing the Tin Man and all that. Also, at some point, a giant, inflatable dolphin and sun-head-thing came out and added to the weirdness. It was just...crazy. Awesomely so. I know it wasn't the best they could possibly be, because it was a festival environment, so I NEED to see them at their own concert now.

Ohh, one other thing. You know the song Great Gig In The Sky, which is basically just a woman vocalizing for about 6 minutes? I wondered how they'd do it, but there's no way I could have ever expected their solution.

That's one of the press photos of the woman they had sing it...apparently, her name is Lizzie Allen.Her freaky huge moth wings kept flapping throughout the song. She ROCKED it!! I wasn't a huge fan of Great Gig In The Sky before, but now I'll picture their awesome re-imagining every time I hear it.

All in all, it was an INCREDIBLE show. Pink Floyd couldn't have done it up better, I guarantee! It was so good, in fact, my mom suggested we left immediately afterwards. I was glad she did, because I'd been thinking the same thing as her: how could anything else that evening possibly top that?? It was better to leave then, with my insane, trippy memories.

As for the rest of the trip...not too much eventful happened. I still need to update you on Bobby and I's time in the studio, and on my fun time at The Stars and Stripes Fest, a weekend concert festival I went to the 4th of July weekend. Ahh well, we'll save those for the next post!! IN the mean time...make sure to check out COS's Facebook page!! And, if you aren't already a fan, you MUST listen to The Flaming Lips. Go. Do it now!!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Obligatory Chicago Post: Pt. 2

Ahhh, I'm at home again. I love the Windy City, but sitting in my glider rocker in the living room still wins (for now). I'd have updated you sooner, but we had no internet Saturday or Sunday...our friends were on their own trip, and we weren't home enough to get the problem figured out ourselves.

So...not much else happened on Friday, so I won't worry about keeping you updated. On Saturday, however, our main purpose for being in Chicago kicked into action: The Dave Matthews Band Caravan, a travelling 3-day festival. Obviously, we couldn't afford tickets to see it, so we went with the eco-group Reverb. That's a link to their website, in case you're interested in free concert tickets and helping the environment. We only worked on Saturday and Sunday, because we didn't care much about any of the acts appearing on Friday. Plus, it'd be super exhausting, as we'd later find out.

Anyway, Saturday. We took the Metra train to the show, and discovered all city employees hated us. Not my mother and me in particular, just the concert-goers in general. Also, the train was completely full of us. When we got to our stop, we had to walk about a mile through a semi-frightening south-side neighborhood to get to the staff entrance. Once there, the guards pointed us down a dusty little road. Did I mention the show took place where a steel mill BLEW UP 20 years before? Let that set the scene a little. We took the dusty dirt road 2 miles in, turning tan-red in the process. When I say dusty, I mean blinding and choking dust. People going by on golf carts all had bandannas over their mouths, causing us to realize we needed some for ourselves.

After trekking our way to the check-in point, we met up with the Reverb employees and got our jobs. We were selling carbon-offset stickers, a job that sucked last time we did it. Basically, you have $5 stickers that people can buy. The money goes towards research and education concerning alternative energy, and each purchase offsets 300 miles driven by concert-goers. They're cool, and worth the money (some of the cheapest there), but people still hate you for selling the things. We were at least allowed to wander throughout the venue to sell them, so if we got tired we didn't have to keep doing it. Also, we got in about an hour before the doors were opened, so we could just wander around and check out vendors. During that time, I got a pair of cheap sunglasses, and a bandanna. The bandanna was from some Deadhead vendors, who gave us a staff discount. We thought it might be because we walked into their tent while they were all smoking pot, but it turns out they kept that up the whole day. The bandanna is pretty sweet, with a bunch of Grateful Dead skulls on it like paisley.

When the gates were opened, the main stage's PA started playing the Pink Floyd song "Run Like Hell." That seemed odd, until we saw the stampede start coming down the hill. It was INSANE!!! We got a video of it the second day, which I'll post soon. When the mad rush had subsided, we started selling. We sold 13 stickers the first day, which wasn't too bad. Actually, other people sold quite a few less, so I was pretty happy. We did spend quite a bit of our working time watching shows, and enjoying food and drink. They had frozen Keifer there, which ruined all other frozen treats for me it was so good.

Once we were done, we sought out shade and enjoyed some Diet Cokes. G Love was scheduled to play soon, so we went by his stage. Actually, we first stopped back by the Deadheads' tent and got a huge tapestry to sit on. It has (once again) a huge Grateful Dead skull on it, and looks really really sweet. Once again, I'll post pictures and videos in my next post.

We went and sat down, and then got back up again to watch G Love's set. He was pretty awesome!! We only heard him play songs from him newest album, but only the best from it. We left him early, to go sit down and wait for the next act I wanted to see, Ben Folds. I've only recently started to listen to him, but I REALLY enjoy his music!! Sadly, he was somewhat drowned out by idiot, drunken frat dudes. He did a hilarious cover, though, of "Sleazy" by Ke$ha. I've never heard the original, but now I don't need to...he did it up better and more amusingly than I could imagine.

After his set ended, DMB came on. The second song they played was "Burning Down the House," which I LOVE to hear them play. Honestly, it's my favorite song to hear them play. We stayed for about an hour of their set, hearing quite a few new songs. They seem to have a new album's worth of material, and played most of it during the course of the festival. After about an hour, we took off, because of A) the drunken asses EVERYWHERE, and B) we wanted to make sure we got home at a decent-ish time for work the next day.

When we did get home, we were starving and filthy. When I washed my hair, the water was brown with dust. Not to get too gross, but my snot was totally black straight into the next day. Actually, there have been many, many complaints on Twitter and IRL about "mud boogers." Needless to say, it was bogue. I slept like a rock, understandably.

So that's pretty much how the first day went. This post is already pretty long, and Sunday's experiences deserve an entire post. Man, just The Flaming Lips' show deserves an entire post!! Yeah, we saw them. Stay tuned for more fun and excitement, coming your way!!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Obligatory Chicago Post: Pt. 1

Hey, readers!! I've put off blogging about all the exciting things that have been going on lately, and I now see where that was a mistake. I'm gonna have to put off posting about those things for a little while longer, because I'm in Chicago right now and feel obligated to post about my experiences so far.

My mom and I took the train here, which was very nice and relaxing as always. We were only 2-ish hours late this time, which isn't too bad as far as the train goes. When we arrived, we walked down to our Chicago friend's office building to drop off our bags. At this point, my mom and I know our way around the city pretty well.

Once we were untethered by our possessions, we wandered around downtown for a few hours. I stopped at a Reckless Records, and got a Flaming Lips CD and 2 Beck CDs. That store is amazing!! Used CDs are automatically better than new ones, because they're cheaper. Afterwards, we went to Buckingham Fountain and watched a dude blow bubbles. He was pretty talented; he had two sticks, with a string web between them. The bubbles produced were HUGE, some bigger than my torso. Of course, those were the bubbles that killjoys liked popping the most.

Later on, we went back to the friend's (Rachel's) office. Her husband Christ picked us up, and we went to Gino's East for some authentic Chicago-style pizza. If you're not familiar with that establishment, let me tell you: it's pretty amazing!! They let you write on all the walls, which creates an interesting look.

We brought 2 Sharpies, but they didn't work terribly well. Next time, I'm gonna bring a paintbrush and model paint...that'll do it. Some friends of Christ and Rachel were meeting us, and we made the mistake of waiting for them to get there before we ordered. Our pizzas took about an hour, but they were TOTALLY worth it. I had some of the Bacon Cheeseburger pizza; my two favorite foods, combined!!

Today, we've so far just taken the train places. We're here in town for the DMB Caravan, which we have tickets for tomorrow and Sunday. of course, I'll fill you in on that much more once it happens. Anyway, We wanted to make the train trip once before hand, so we'd know we could successfully navigate there. We have to take the Metra, which is a high-speed train that is somehow different than the subways and the El. I think it has fewer stops. We got to the venue successfully, and Christ picked us up from there to take us back home. Now we're just chilling at their house, and I'm blogging. nifty, huh?

Ohh, by the way. One of the posts I have yet to write is concerning Crush Of Society, and a trip we recently took to a REAL STUDIO. More on it later, but I wanted to share with you what we got done there so far. They're just instrumentals right now, and they haven't been mixed. Here they are on Bandcamp, where you can download any of our posted songs. Here they are on Facebook, which I strongly encourage you to like. Please!! Also on Facebook is a little bit about our T-shirts. They're $10 if you're local enough I can get them to you without an issue, or $15 if they need to be shipped. Check the stuff out!!

Anyway...I didn't use the Internet AT ALL yesterday, so I have a bit of catching up to do. I'll let you know about the rest of my trip soon!!