Wednesday, August 30, 2017

I let my subscription to 'The Economist' lapse.

I really love The Economist. I'm not completely politically aligned with all their editorial views, but their thoughtful coverage of current events is excellent. Unfortunately, since they're built primarily as a print publication, by the time the new issue comes out (digitally) on Thursdays, much of what's in it feels, um, outdated already. So instead I stalk AP and Reuters nowadays when I'm looking for something I can count on being trustworthy.

Hopefully The Economist will still be around for me to subscribe to once Trump finally leaves office and the news cycle returns to a relatively normal pace again.

Sorry Economist.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Back on track!

Summer cold finally gone? Check.

Back on a regular gym schedule? Check.

All systems returned to 100% productivity? Check.

Library of books unpacked? Check.

Caught up on all my new music listening? Well, ummm...

It's nice to be feeling human again!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Gaga for Gaga (and for good causes).

Photo by me. Lady Gaga knows how to make an entrance!
I saw Lady Gaga at Wrigley Field on Friday and the show was great. And our seats were amazing.

It was funny, many folks I see shooting shows were seated near me (along with the usual music writers) and I couldn't help but wonder if it was to make u[ for the fact that Gaga wasn't allowing any pro photographers to capture the show. If that was the case, it was an awfully nice gesture.

Read my review on Chicagoist.

Yesterday I also volunteered for a dunk tank at the Do312 birthday party. It had booths based on the "seven deadly sins" and each one was raising money for a different charity. The dunk tank was "wrath" and I helped raise money for Girl Rock Chicago! Did I enjoy constantly being submerged in water? Not so much; but I'd happily do it again for a good cause!

UNRELATED: Happy birthday to my little (who actually stands a good 2-3 inches taller than me, and I am not short!) brother Jason!

Friday, August 25, 2017

Green Day are always a blast to see live.

Who wouldn't want to front Green Day, even for a minute?! This was awesome. Photo by me.
Check out my photos and review from last night's Green Day show at Wrigley Field!

I've been thinking about something related to show reviews a lot, lately One reason I always wait until the next day to write is when you transcribe an experience immediately afterward you have no way of processing what you've seen in a meaningful way. Sure, you can spit out a take that will probably deliver most of your preconceptions going into the show, but you won't be able to actually think about what you've just seen in a really meaningful way.

That's not me throwing shade at anyone in particular—I think most reviews I read that have immediate post-show deadlines are just fine! It's more me showing gratitude that I have the freedom to give it just a little more time to sink in before I have to write my own reviews.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

A turning point.

One year ago today I made a big decision to try and improve my life. I know 2017 has been rough on everyone but, personally, 2016 was a far, darker year for me. It’s been a journey of great progress, with only a few minor setbacks since then, and I still have a lot of work to do on the front of patience and just chilling out more, but I can definitely tell you I am in a much happier place today.

So, since I’m in a happier place today, here’s a happy tune for you. This morning I happened to be listening to the remix below and when I got into work I realized it’s the kind of tune everyone could use to start their day in a great mood.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Can you turn the creative off?

If you get a project do you ever find yourself emailing yourself idea snippets at 3 a.m., or taking a break from a group dinner to take down some notes before you forget? Or are you an “ideate at the office” type? I don’t think there’s anything wrong with either approach, it’s just something I’m curious about.

(I’m the 3 a.m. / break from group type, by the way. When I’m given a creative project / problem it keeps tapping me on the shoulder at unexpected times.)

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Be brief. Be bright. Be gone!

While unpacking, I found my Insights Discovery blocks from a previous job—they were big on the program—and the resulting order from "Yes, this is how I best communicate!" to "This works, but isn't optimal" are surprisingly accurate.

  1. Red—Be Brief, Be Bright, Be Gone
  2. Green—Show Me You Care
  3. Yellow—Involve Me
  4. Blue—Give Me Details

I admit I found the program useful, especially when communicating with colleagues, since a glance at the blocks o their desks at least uncovered some basic truths, if not their individual nuances. Our facilitator the day we went through the program was not so great though. Maybe she needed some work on reading a room on how best to communicate?

But hey, I still have my blocks!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Quick thoughts on various things I watched over the last few days.

Seriously, nice scarf dude. Marvel's The Defenders, photo by Sarah Shatz/Netflix
The Defenders
Just about the right length, and I liked seeing Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, and even Iron Fist, all together. I still heaven’t finished the first season of Iron Fist and now I don’t need to. Still, it took a little too long to get the whole gang together.

T2 Trainspotting
Still holds up. Turns out the reason I liked it the first time wasn’t just nostalgia, but because it’s a pretty good flick!

Game Of Thrones
Way too much is suddenly happening that makes no sense, and that’s worrying when you realize the series is basically wrapping up. Also, I called that whole twist at the very end (because it couldn’t have been telegraphed any more broadly.

Twin Peaks
HOLY MACKEREL THAT IS HOW YOU DO IT. Loved the latest episode. Just loved it.

This just aired so the only thought I’ll share is that this show keeps getting better and better and if for some reason you’re not watching it, you really should start.

Kidding! I have zero interest in ever watching this show.

Friday, August 18, 2017

What if a metal band crashed into an 18-wheeler of synth-pop?

Come on, how AMAZING is this Arcadea promo shot? Photo by Jenny Bishop
Aside from sharing that excellent new Varsity track on Wednesday, I fear my posts have been on a bit of a bummer run lately.

I don't often just copy a bio from a press release, but in the case of Arcadea, I don't think I can improve on its blend of epic goofiness:
5 billion years after the last great extinction, the galaxy Andromeda spins headlong into the Milky Way with three intergalactic travelers in tow. Drummer/vocalist Brann Dailor (Mastodon), Guitarist/keyboardist Core Atoms (Zruda, Gaylord) and Keyboardist/guitarist Raheem Amlani (Withered, Scarab) are said pioneers, the space wizards of psychedelic soundscapes where organic drums collide with synthetic keys to create an infinite transmission from an event horizon. They go by ARCADEA and their otherworldly brand of psyche-electric, synth-driven, metallic madness sounds alien yet somehow familiar.
I mean, come on, doesn't that sound exactly what you need right now?

Crank it up and let's take an intergalactic trip together.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

No matter how tired you get, you can't really sleep.

I’m just so tired and sluggish so much of the time lately. Yes, part of it is a summer cold that won’t quit, but I’m beginning to think I’m starting to just grow weary to my bones about so many things I feel powerless over.

The past year plus has been a real wake up call for my belief that people are basically rational and good. I still think the vast majority of people are good, but the amount of misinformation people believe, primarily because they are not driven by any sort of curiosity that challenges their own world view, is staggering. And I don’t mean that in an overly simplistic “people that don’t agree with me are dumb” sort of way. But I do think a large part of the problems we are having right now is that people don’t want to ever look beyond their own perceived self-interest, or consider anything that challenges that particular perception, even when their actions are clearly not in support of their own self-interest. I know, it’s dizzying. And as someone who thrives on being a communicator it’s triply frustrating to not be able to clearly convey these things in ways that sway other people to at least consider a different way of thinking.

Look, I am not perfect. And I’m smart enough to realize that the older I get the less I know. And that’s not because I’m getting dumber (though I’m sure my wife and close friends might giggle a little at that claim of “not getting dumber”), but because I see the world as less and less a two-sided affair of right vs. wrong or us vs. them or whatever and more as constantly shifting tableaux where I wish people would work on constricting a balanced way of living and not a beachhead from which to constantly wage war.

So, yeah, I’m just getting worn down. Maybe I’m sluggish because I’m fighting so hard against withdrawing; realizing I have to continue to engage. It really is just bone-crushingly exhausting, but there really is no other way.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Hey VARSITY, just settle down!

VARSITY, photo by Aleia + Alex
I can’t remember how I got into Chicago’s VARSITY in the first place. It feels like I might have either stumbled into an opening set of the band, or maybe they were recommended to me by Keep. Or did i ever try and book them at some point? No clue.

It’s been a while since I’ve heard anything new from the band, so I was pleasantly surprised to find a Bandcamp email this morning alerting me that they had a new song!

Given the dire mood of the past couple days, this blast of pop hits the spot, even if its own lyrics aren’t quite as filled with sunshine as the music.

It looks like they also shot a video for the tune, if you feel more visually inclined today.

It looks they are also on tour! Happyface! Though it appears I missed their Chicago show. Sadface.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


I've been offline most of the day, home sick with a summer cold that just won't let go, and of course as soon as I logged on this evening I was met with this news. Not that I should have been surprised. But what is it going to take for Republicans as a whole to turn on this guy and just remove him from office before he systematically dismantles and crushes an entire nation through his own willful ignorance?

Monday, August 14, 2017

I’m speechless.

Every time I think things can’t get any worse, that the U.S. must have finally hit bottom bottom, I am proven horrifically wrong.

I don’t even know what to say.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Kesha's 'Rainbow' is finally out.

You should buy it now.

I mean, I am certain I will spill a couple hundred words on it within the next few days but trust me when I say this is definitely worth your hard-earned cash. You won't regret picking it up.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Huge, fuzzy, chunky power-pop thy name is Partner.

Partner, photo by Colin Medley
Oh my god oh my god oh my god file this debut by Partner under one of those albums you happen to play as soon as you get it and it totally makes your day and possibly becomes your instantaneous favorite album of the month and you then wonder how you made it this far into the summer without this album existing because it is sunshine and it is smiley faces and it is everything upbeat and positive and almost blinding in its pinpoint pop sensibilities (with the only misstep being the dotting of there trackless with some skits but hey you can delete those after an initial listen and once you do the album that was nigh perfect is even more so) and you want everyone to hear the whole thing RIGHT THIS SECOND but OH NO IT ISN’T OUT UNTIL SEPTEMBER 8 so you resign yourself to sharing a single song and simultaneously pity both everyone around you who isn’t listening to the whole album along with you and yourself for having to enjoy this piece of wonder in solitary because something like this is meant to be listened to with all your friends past, present, and future and JESUS this is really good and thank you Josée Caron and thank you  Lucy Niles for creating this album and making this the absolute best Thursday this Thursday could be.

Oh yeah. Partner plays Township in Chicago on September 28. Oh, and in Palatine at Dirty Nellie’s (?!) with PUP (???!!!I might have to travel to the homeland???!!!) on October 3.

Here's another song on the album that's not streaming on the album but available in single form so you can at least get another taste of the delicious brew this Canadian duo has concocted.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Oh. Did I mention I saw Parry Farrell sing with Foo Fighters in one of my favorite concert venues of all time last weekend?

Oh, I didn't? Well, I did.

Also, in case you’re wondering, I shot this without being that annoying guy at the show holding his phone above his head and blocking everyone’s view. Instead I was in the back of the room, against a doorway (it was packed in there) with no one directly behind me.

The handful of times I have filmed whole songs of bands—the very last one ever performed by The Postal Service is one of the other very few (which was exactly four years to the day from the Foo Fighters' show!)—I hold my phone against my chest if I’m not against a wall.

So no, don’t worry, I’m not that guy.

Anyway, enjoy!

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

An unexpected media vacation courtesy Lollapalooza really hit the spot.

From Thursday through Monday most of my digital activity was in the realm of producing content via both my personal social channels and public articles on Chicagoist. One side effect of Lolla is you have almost no cell reception throughout the entire weekend, and when you do get a bar or two of signal I tend to use it to send out observations and reports and not waste it sucking down content. So that meant I read news stories in one or two windows of time a day (usually at home in the morning right after I finished writing and in the late afternoon via the wi-fi in the media area) and boy was that a nice change of pace.

I would love to say I learned something from this brief respite, like that I would continue to stagger consumption, but I know I won't.*

I'm jut going to appreciate how nice it was, even for such a brief period of time.

*Although, truly, if these keeps up, I will have to start rationing. We keep saying this can't keep up, and it does. Even with Trump ostensibly on vacation (incidentally not a move I consider it worth criticizing him for since everyone is due a vacation, even a President I don't care for, and in the President's case there is no real such thing as a vacation nyway so stop trying to use this as lame excuse to paint Trump as lacy, in this respect) the news cycle is running at a rate that would send a hamster wheel into hyperspace.

Monday, August 07, 2017

The fourth day of Lollapalooza was ... the last day.

Time to go home, until next year, *sniff, sniff*
Arcade Fire was great. Lollapalooza was great. It was my 18th Lolla, and Mich's 13th. I know, WHAT??

Check out the wrap-up of Sunday's music and mayhem on Chicagoist.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

The third day of Lollapalooza was ... just right!

I like this photo of Chance I took. Little Chance flanked by two BIG Chances!
Finally! We got awesome weather!

Oh yeah, and the music was good too. Read all about Saturday's Lolla goings on at Chicagoist.

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Thursday, August 03, 2017

The calm before the storm.

For once the title is literal. Bracing for rain today. Is Lollapalooza a Lollapalooza if there isn't some sort of crazy weather warning going into it? I would like to think, one year, the answer will be yes.

But this isn't that year and I am packing a poncho!

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Lollapalooza 2017 is almost here! Are you prepared?

This anxiety-inducing photo is courtesy of Soaring Badger Productions. It’s not as scary from ground level, I promise.
Four days of music, parties, afterparties, writing, more writing, more music, and trying to remind myself I need to eat some food then realizing it's 9 p.m. and I haven't had lunch, much less dinner!

Anyway, to help everyone get prepared here are some helpful posts I worked on that you should check out if you want to make the most of the coming looooong weekend.

Our Lollapalooza 2017 Survival Guide & Cheat Sheet

Lollapalooza 2017: 21 Acts We're Looking Forward To This Weekend

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

How much new music did I listen to in July 2017? Let's find out!

"Hey, what're you listening to?"
Huh, judging by the numbers, July was truly the cruelest month. I definitely found myself digging more into back catalogs of favorite artists as the more recent releases piled up scores of 2s and 3s.

Also, I bought and moved into a house, so that ate into my usual listening time. So, there's that.

Here’s hoping that after Lollapalooza I’ll be facing a new stream of more excellent releases!

In case you’re new to these monthly recaps, or need a refresher, here's a guide to making sense of my personal rating system.

Total number of new/upcoming releases listened to in July 2017: 52

Number of those releases that rated 7-10: 0

Number of those releases that rated 4-6: 35

Number of those releases that rated 1-3: 17

Highest rated album: Arcade Fire’s Everything Now. I know it’s getting slammed left and right, but I liked it. That said, it only warranted a 6 so it didn’t strike me as a grand artistic achievement, just a fun listen. As I get older I could care less whatWin Butler is saying; I’m just glad the music fund its groove again. I guess that’s why most people hate it? Not serious enough? Whatever.

New band I’d never heard of that caught me off guard: Aye Nako’s Silver Haze hits all the right button in me. It’s all '90s sloppy indie guitars and slurry vocals.Honestly, I need to give this another listen to see if I like it because it presses the right buttons or because it stands on its own. But for now, it counts as catching me off guard.

Most surprising discovery: That Lana Del Rey is capable of a few good songs. What isn’t surprising is she ruined the chance to do something great by releasing an overstuffed LP when and EP of duets would have been a better choice.