Friday, October 30, 2009

Can I Live While I'm Young???

How far would you travel to see the band that you love? Scratch that how far would you walk?

This is the question that was posed to be sitting on the side of a highway in Vermont back in late August of 2004. There was about 12 miles of straight traffic in between my vw jetta and my favorite band Phish's final farewell festival. This festival was capping off what was and still is the four greatest months of my entire life. Let the story begin.

The summer of 2004 I had just graduated from James Madison and decided to put real life plans on hold and move down to the beach with about 15 of my closest college friends. I will save the story about this house for another time, because well its too good. But the basics you need to know is, the group of friends I hung out with in college was the most random group of kids imaginable. Looking at us, you wouldn't have thought we would all mesh but somehow we fit like a jigsaw puzzle. Each person bringing his or her own unique inspirations and personalities to the group. The thread that kept us all together was the undying love of our favorite band: Phish.

Many of us had started listening to their music back in the beginning of high school and had seen countless numbers of shows. We spent years in college on the road heading to shows, throwing listening parties in our apartments after we got home with tapes from said shows, anything involving this band we were a part of. To me the best part was that at any show we would go to, you could look to your left and look to your right and you were surrounded by the people you love listening to the music you all loved. To me there is no better feeling than that right there.

So it was not suprising to anybody that during the start of that summer of 2004, when Phish announced that they were going to be breaking up after 20+ years of music making, we were all saddened. To us this was not just a band breaking up it was singling the end of our college life as well. This band who was such an integral part of our last four years, it was almost fitting that at the end of the summer we would have a summer tour that would end this experience for all of us. It was an easy decision for all of us to attend the last run of shows. Little did we know what exactly we were signing up for.

The story of that whole tour is long and again will save that for another day but I would just like to focus on Coventry. Phish's (at that time) last 2 day festival up in Vermont. This festival was to be the send off of a great career. The place where everyone would travel far and wide and join with 80,000+ of their fellow Phish friends and give this band the thank you it deserved.

Well, I definitely was not prepared for what came next. After spending the previous week and a half traveling up and down the east coast. My car was on its way to Coventry, Vermont. A small country town on the northern neck of the state. My friend Jeff from college and I were the two passengers in my car,
we had plans to meet up with my college friends at the Festival. We drove threw the night after the Camden show and made it up to Vermont right around the crack of dawn. That is when the traffic started.
We got on line and we waited. And waited. And waited. Now anyone who has been to any huge music festival knows to expect some traffic but there was something different about this time. We were not moving. At all. The car had been turned off for hours. At some point we had even gotten out of the car walked down the road and started making friends. Later on that day when we realized we still were not moving an inch, and we could not even see the venue in the distance some people started to worry. We had heard about the conditions on the campsite, and they said that the rain the week leading up to the festival had virtually washed away some of the parking lots. I stayed positive. That was until Mike Gordon (Phish Bass Player) came across my radio.

I will never forget this. Jeff and I were sitting in my car listening to Phish's radio station when the voice came across and said "to anyone who has yet to make it on to the festival grounds, we are sorry but there is no more room and we are going to not allow any more cars in". We froze. No more cars. Really! But I had tickets. I had spent the last two weeks sleeping on the side of the roads and in crowded hotel rooms to make this trip happen. Was this how my Phish experience was going to end. That is when Jeff looked right into my eyes and asked "We are not going to miss this show....right?". I looked at him sternly and said with conviction...absolutely not! We started more cars more cars more cars in...GOT IT! We will walk!

By this time it was the next morning, we had waited the whole entire day in traffic and we had approx. 12 hours until the first set started. I looked at Jeff, he looked at my car (a graduation present from my dad) and we said one of Phish's famous lyrics. "Can I Live While I'm Young?" We pulled my Jetta into the grassy median of the highway and parked. We had seen a few people do this before us and figured that if they were going to tow us, they would have to tow everyone. We quickly each packed a book bag filled with our essentials and just started to follow the crowd. We asked someone ahead of us how long they thought we had, the answer we heard made us laugh. 12 miles. Better get to it.

That day walking through the countryside of Vermont with thousands of fans on the same mission will be one of those days that I will never forget. The great people of Vermont were allowing us to use their backyards to cut through, they
were feeding us, letting us graciously use their bathrooms. It was a wonderful feeling. Now as you can imagine, we were in the middle of nowhere so cell phones were not working and Jeff and I had realized that yup we were probably on our own for the next three days. Finding out friends among the masses was going to be hard, but we were okay with that. We just wanted to make it inside. We walked for what seemed like forever that day. In truth it was a solid 5-6 hours of walking to make it to the gates of the venue. I had never been so happy to see a muddy parking lot in my entire life. We made it!

We sat online outside the gates to get us into the venue and we were lined up right next to the lucky people who had gotten their cars into the lots. As Jeff and I sat in this line exhausted, something in me made me look into this line of cars. Something caught my eye. I see our friend from college Aaron sticking his head out of his car trying to sell an extra ticket. I look at Jeff and say..."No friggin way!!!". We cut the lines ran over to Aaron, happy to see someone else we recognized looked around and just started jumping up and down. Behind Aaron was a line of about 5 of our friends cars. They had taken a different route, using back roads and somehow made it into the concert grounds with ease (right!?). I didn't care how it happened but some how it did. Jeff and I jumped on the bumper of the car and literally road it into the campgrounds like a chariot.

We made it. We took the risk. Left the car. Stayed positive. And our karma paid us back by bringing us back together with our friends. All was right in the world. Now as for the rest of that weekend, things could have went smoother. The band had some technical difficulties, the venue was literally a mud pit which stole from me my favorite sandals, I literally had nothing on me but the things I fit into a backpack (sweatshirt, bottle of vodka, and some others things that I won't mention). But what mattered is when I looked to the left and looked to the right I was surrounded by the people I love, with the band that had brought us all together saying goodbye in front of us. In that moment I remember thinking that it was a fitting end to a long great journey, and it was time to move onto the next stage. And I did in fact. Live while I was young....
***I write this post in dedication to all of my friends who are on their way out to Phish 8, in California today. Phish reunited earlier this year after almost five years away and are throwing their first festival since Coventry this weekend. I will not be going, instead opting to listen to it on my radio all weekend, with my new car sitting safely outside my building. It didn't work out this time around, yet you know sometime in the near future when given the option again, I would gladly throw that Civic into a grassy median and walk for a few good shows with some good friends***

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A "Swell Season" for Love Songs..

I found myself in an all too familiar place tonight. Target. I was wandering around like I usually do with a cart full of useless items, when I stumbled into the music section. I went to the new releases, looked on the shelf and almost fell over. There staring me in my face was one of my favorite duos new albums, the Swell Season (aka the two from the movie Once). How could I have missed this, how did I not have it on pre-order. So many questions, so little time. I left my cart in the aisle. Marched straight to the counter. Paid cash. Was too excited to even open the CD in the car. Came home. Listened cover to cover. Happy.

Okay now that I have my composure, let me back up for a second and explain. The two people (pictured) are Marketa Irglova and Glen Hansard, also known as the Swell Season. If you are not familiar with their work on the movie Once, you need to stop reading this and go to Blockbuster right now and rent that movie. Essentially its a love story told through music. In the simple yet magical independent movie, guitar playing boy meets a piano playing girl, boy falls in love with girl, boy and girl make beautiful music together. The soundtrack to the movie is easily one of my top 3 soundtracks of all time (Almost Famous, Garden State the others). Filled with tracks about love and loss, layered with beautiful harmonies, each song outdoes the last. The title track "Falling Slowly" even won the duo an Oscar. Nobody was more surprised then the Irish singer-songwriter Hansard and Czech singer-pianist Irglova, who were virtually unknown to US audiences. The two who had fallen in love during the filming of the movie, decided to make the band Swell Season and start to tour with the soundtrack to great success.

Now onto "Strict Joy" their latest album. Since we heard from them last the couple decided to break up, but not thankfully didn't end their musical relationship. I wondered how this would play out on their new album, how songs would sounds like, and I was right. These songs are laid out perfectly. They weave together the things that we all go through, the risks we put ourselves in when we enter a relationship. The ups the downs, the hurt, the sorrow, the joy and the happiness. There are high moments, some Van Morrison like upbeat songs like "Feeling the Pull", and then there are the more fragile songs like "Loved You Wrongly". Cover to cover this cd is worth the $9.99 price tag.

I guess the best way to sum up this music is it made me want to come inside sit on the couch and just be thankful that there are still people out there making good music like this. It is the year of indie music. Mark my word.


Here is a post combining my love of two things. Television and Music. To anyone who has been living under a rock and or to those friends of mine who don't own a television (yes I is possible). Glee (Wed. 9pm on FOX) is hands down my new favorite show.

The show is focused around a high school Glee club, made up of an ecclectic group of students. Everyone from athletes, to mathaletes, play geeks and those who just don't fit into one of those high school groups. All of these students who wouldn't have looked twice at each other in the hallways are put to the task of coming together and making this club work. Their goal - make it to sectionals to prove to the school and themselves that the Glee club is worth a second look.

Okay enough of the background. There are many reasons to love this show but the main is the musical numbers. They are absolutely incredible. Many of the young actors are new to the small screen but not to showbiz. A few have been making the rounds on many Broadway shows since they were little, and boy does it show. They cover some of the most amazing songs and using the word cover does not even do it justice, they re-invent these songs. Make them fresher newer, and most importantly introduce them into a younger audience. Its not a surprise why if you look at the Itunes top 10 singles, six are songs from Glee. That is unheard of, for any tv show.

I will give you two videos of this amazing show, first off is what I believe is their best musical number to date. Its a cover of Queens - Somebody to Love. Good luck trying to get it out of your head this afternoon...I sure can't.

See how amazing was that! Again the show plays on Wednesdays at 9pm on Fox.

Finally I will end this post on pure comedy. This next video is from the episode called: Mash Up. Their coach gives them a task to split into boys vs girls and make mash-ups (basically taking two completely different songs and bringing them together). Here are the boys singing their Mash Up of Bon Jovi's Its My Life and Ushers Confessions. Again Genius. (side note, the boys do look a little hyped up, this is because they all got addicted to nodoze and are literally freaking out). This may help explain some of the faces...:)

Okay thats all for now, enjoy the clip and please watch this show. Its genius.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Lets Hear it for New York!!!

"Without music life would be a mistake.~ Nietzsche".

Well well, here it goes. My first post.


I would like to say first off that I will not use this space to tell you what to listen to or why your music sucks. This is just a space for me to let everyone know what I am listening to at the moment or what live music I'm excited to see. I spend literally about 70% of my day thinking or listening to music.

Okay enough about to the good stuff. The music.

Today is Game 1 of the World Series and anyone who has ever met me knows that I am a crazy Yankee fan and have been since I was a wee little child. (Need proof.. BAM)

Yes, that is me back when I lived in Long Island rocking a sweet Yankees coat...HA.... anyways back on subject.

Tonight is Game 1 and to counter both my nerves and excitement I will be posting Jay-Z's tribute to NYC, "Empire State of Mind" complete with Yankee highlights. I will say on a personal note that I absolutely love this song. Something about the line "these streets will make you feel brand new, these lights will inspire you". Genius.

Okay now I'm fired up...

Lets go Yankees, bring home Game 1!!!

(and there it is, post one done...not so scary...eek)