Sunday, October 04, 2009

Nerdy and Manic...

...the perfect way to describe the past few days of my life.

In case you don't know this about me, in addition to being a massive music snob and avid concert goer, I am also a mega comedy nerd. One of the major perks of my job is that it affords me ample time and pretty much forces me to listen to podcasts and music all day long, in order to drown out the sound of the people around me.

I always enjoyed Comedy Central and HBO specials, Conan O'Brien, Last Comic Standing, and Bill Maher, Stephen Colbert, and others in the past, but over the last two years, I've had the chance to delve deeper and deeper into the world of "alternative comedy" and I've learned so much about what I find truly funny thanks to a number of amazing comics that happen to be much wittier than I will ever be.

Since moving to Chicago I've also had the opportunity to see quite a few of these comics perform live...sometimes for free! When done right, comedy shows can rival and occasionally even surpass concerts in terms of the joy they bring me. A night of unpredictability and laughter with hundreds of people that have a similar sense of humor...what could be better?

One of the people I've "discovered" through podcasts (and the very special A Special Thing forum) is Chris Hardwick. Of course, I remember Chris as the sarcastic co-host of Jenny McCarthy and Carmen Electra on Singled Out, and I also remember him as the equally snarky host of Shipmates, an atrocious dating show that I used to watch at an ungodly hour of the night in my waitressing years (when I couldn't sleep). I think I always liked him because he seemed to grasp how silly reality TV, dating, and people in general, were. Then he sort of disappeared...until he started popping up on seemingly EVERY podcast I listen to: Never Not Funny, Guys With Feelings, Comedy Death Ray, Adam Carolla, I Love Movies, Comedy & Everything Else and many more.

So finally, after all of the listening to him in my earbuds, watching him on TV and following him on Twitter, I got to see him perform yesterday at the Lakeshore Theater, where he showed up with his fellow joke-telling, music-making partner in crime, Mike Phirman. By the time they left the stage, the performance had already safely made its way into my top two comedy shows. Yep, right up there with Paul F. Tompkins...and that's not an easy place to get to. I can't really describe the show without repeating my favorite jokes, but I can say that they are brilliant stand-up comedians, surprisingly fantastic live singers, highly entertaining performers and overall smart, hilarious, sweet, lovely guys. And look - I got hugs and autographs! It was a dream come true.

(A few other pictures HERE, including the best autograph ever...they still make me smile!)

If you don't have the chance to see them perform, you can always just do as I do and check out Chris and Mike on Twitter every day, listen for them on any of the podcasts I mentioned above, or take a look at for a little bit of all things geek.

Moving right along, not only did I have one of the funniest nights of my life this week, but also one of the downright rockingest. Jon and I saw the Manic Street Preachers on Thursday night, which is normally not the best night for a show, because I'm tired and worn down from the week and anxious about staying out too late. As it got closer to Thursday, however, I got more and more excited about seeing the Manics again. When the time actually came to leave work and head over to the Metro, I had butterflies in my stomach and nervous energy like you wouldn't believe. I've seen the Manics twice before at English music festivals, but nothing that compares to being in a smaller venue with a few hundred hardcore fans that have either never had the chance to see them before or have waited ten years for the chance to do it again.

(More of Jon's awesome pictures HERE)

I'd read somewhere that Nicky Wire hurt his back earlier in the year, so I was worried that he'd be less enthusiastic or, even worse, obviously in pain, but there was no sign of any of that. James and Nicky (I couldn't really see Sean) were all smiles, jumping around like they're younger than me and absolutely destroying my eardrums all night long. Four days later, I still don't think my hearing is back to normal and I can't stop humming their songs. If you haven't gotten the chance to check out their newest CD, Journal for Plague Lovers, (it came out pretty recently in the U.S.) please do. It's beautiful and powerful and stuck in my brain.

I sometimes wonder if I'm doing myself a disservice by clinging so tightly to some of the same bands I've been listening to since I was a teenager, but when they continue to come out with brilliant new albums and tour them with such passion, I can't help but fall in love all over again. I don't know if I'll ever feel the same way about a "new" band as I do The Charlatans or the Manics or Super Furry Animals, etc. They came into my life at a time when I was really starting to understand the power of music, and the fact that they're still around and relevant just proves to me that I was right all along. There's something special there, and I'm a lucky girl to have the opportunity and means to experience it.

Any other week, I'd probably be able to write a full post about Big Fan, a movie we saw on Friday starring Patton Oswalt. Patton is another comedian that I feel like I've gotten to know better through podcasts, and another extremely funny person that I got to see this week. Because this post is already far too long, though, I'll keep it simple and say that the movie was really good. It's written by the guy who did The Wrestler, (he was also there for the Q&A after the movie was over) and from what I have heard, it's just as dark, if not darker. It deals with obsession, depression, rejection, love, hate, failure, and other such themes, but still manages to be pretty funny. I'd recommend it, though it may be hard to find, as it's currently only being played in a few cities at a time. Patton did one of the best Q&As I've seen so far and had me laughing so hard at one point that I was actually crying. How many people can do that?

So that's my week (well, three days of it anyway). I've been meaning to post for a while, and in my downtime have neglected to talk about World's Greatest Dad (another really dark, really funny film) and a few other things I've been slightly obsessed with over the past month or so. We also went to Milwaukee last weekend, which was much more exciting than I would have guessed, but I suppose all of this will have to wait for another day. Till then, please enjoy some Hard 'N Phirm and Manics:

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I Knew Things Were Going Too Smoothly

North America tour

The Charlatans are sorry to announce the cancellation of their forthcoming North American tour. This is due to drummer Jon Brookes' longstanding shoulder complaint. He has been strongly advised by doctors against undertaking 23 concerts in 28 days as this could cause severe damage to ligaments in the affected area. He will start a course of treatment starting in September and in the coming months to rectify the condition.

Once again the band wish to apologise to people who have purchased tickets and those that had made travel arrangements We are as disappointed as you are, due to this unavoidable situation.
Many thanks.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Whole Lotta Lolla

And on the first day, it rained...

On the way to Grant Park, Jon, Dan (who was visiting from Florida) and I stopped to pick up ponchos. Turns out, everyone else had the same idea many hours earlier, so they were sold out. We probably should have planned a little better, but tons of people had already assured me, "It never rains at Lollapalooza."

I can't lie...I was grumpy. I didn't deal well when I came to the realization that I was going to be wet and cold and sticky for the next nine hours. The final straw came when I noticed that I'd forgotten the camera battery at home. I was outta there. Luckily, the three-day wristband allows for re-entry and we live a fairly short walk (about a mile) from the park. I decided that there was no way I was going to miss getting pictures of Depeche Mode, because who knows when I'll get to see them again?

I went home, dried off, changed from jeans into shorts (rookie mistake with the jeans), spent a few minutes of quality time with the cat, put on some more comfortable shoes, grabbed an umbrella and remembered the battery this time around. I was really surprised that they were even allowing umbrellas into the festival, considering their unwieldiness when it's windy and the fact that they would clearly get in the way at a concert, but I suppose it's a good thing they did.
Ever worn glasses in the rain?

And so, Friday began with a drizzle, continued with a slight downpour and ended with the parting of clouds just in time for Depeche Mode. I was alone in the crowd for this one, as Jon, Dan & Nick wanted to check out Kings of Leon first. Fine with me, as it's easier to make your way towards the front if you're only one person. The crowd around me was surprisingly polite and in so many ways the exact opposite of the Flaming Lips experience at Pitchfork.

DM played a good set...I would have liked to see more old stuff in there, but I understand that they have an album to promote. It's not that I dislike their latest work, I just don't know it as well and am obviously not as emotionally connected to it. Regardless of what they played, I thought they sounded great and Dave Gahan was as much of an entertainer as always. I saw them about 10 years ago and I couldn't find any sign (performance-wise) that they'd aged a whole decade, which says a lot.

Jon and Dan had tickets to see the Arctic Monkeys' aftershow (or pre-show, considering they played Lolla on Saturday) at the Metro later that night, so I took the opportunity to head home, clean up, and go to bed somewhat early. I'm glad I did, because I've now been to two Arctic Monkeys' concerts with Jon, neither by choice, and the audience is always 80% dudes, and rowdy dudes at that.

Saturday and Sunday were, in two words, hot and sticky. There were lots of ladies in bathing suits and shirtless men, which made for a sweaty mess when you're standing in the middle of hundreds of them. The lines for the water fountains were longer than the lines for the toilets and on Sunday, they even began giving out water bottles for free around 2-3pm (when the day was at it's scorchingest).

While I forgot the camera battery on Friday and vowed to be more careful next time, I somehow managed to forget my memory card on Saturday. At least we had two cameras, so Jon took his and I was left to roam without one for a while. I spent a lot of Saturday by myself. This may sound sad to some, but I really relish being able to find a little bit of solitude in the middle of all the chaos. As is typical, when I find myself alone at Lollapalooza, I tend to migrate over to the dance stage. I don't know why this is, since in my everyday life I listen to very little dance music, but for some reason I love it live. Talk about sweaty masses...everyone at this stage is jumping and grooving all day long, no matter the temperature. The crowd seems to pulse with the repetitive beats coming from the stage, merging and becoming a sea of glistening bodies, with surfers riding the waves of hands to shore.

If you've never spent time alone at a music festival without a camera, these are the sorts of things you notice and think about. It's poetry, really, and there is no way to capture it in words or images. I say try and check it out for yourself if you get the chance one day. I've been to festivals in England by myself before and it really does change everything about the experience. It's amazing how much more you remember about the day when your focus is more on the event and less on the individuals around you. I'm not saying I didn't enjoy my time with Jon, Dan, Elisa, Nick and anyone else I spoke to on any of the days. On the contrary, I think I was able to enjoy the conversation and company more once I separated myself from it for a while. Everything is better with a little bit of balance, isn't it?

Speaking of Elisa, I spent a good amount of time on Saturday and Sunday with her and I must say it was really really nice to be around someone who is so interested in and knowledgeable about all types of music. She seemed to run into a ton of people she knew as well, which I always find odd in such big crowds (I did hear from one of my co-workers that he saw me there, though, so I guess it's possible even for people like me, who don't know a ton of music lovers in Chicago).

I met up with her after Glasvegas and we got some frozen kefir (Starfruit), which was somewhat flavorless but refreshing and absolutely necessary on such a hot day. She was with me for my favorite moment of the weekend, which I posted last week, and actually took that picture of me with Glasvegas, which makes me smile every time I think about it. They were really nice and I got a kiss on the cheek from James after gushing about how much I adore them and how excited I was to see that they were playing Lolla. I joked with Jon afterwards that the first time we saw them I got a kiss on the hand, and the second time I got a kiss on the cheek, so he better watch out for someone trying to make out with me the next time we see them! I make this promise right here, right now, and you can hold me to it. Every time Glasvegas are playing here (or in any future city I live in), I will go see them. They are that good.

I'm not going to get into details about everyone I saw. That would take far too long and would bore the pants off of me and anyone brave enough to read through all of it. Instead, I will try do Twitter-sized reviews for the major ones:

@Band of Horses: Continuing to play opposite the festival headliners & organizers for 10-15 minutes takes major balls! See you @ Pitchfork next time ;)

@Lou Reed: Causing Band of Horses to go on 20 min late b/c you're a "perfectionist" loses you cool points in my book. Good to see u still kickin', tho.

@The Killers: You sounded better last time I saw you, but your energy made up for it. Too bad the drunkies around me didn't like your stories.

@Perry Farrell: Really? Your "special guest" was your wife? Really? Or was it her obscenely short dress? Cos *that* was actually pretty special...for dudes.

@Ben Folds: I'm sorry I didn't fully enjoy you because of my dreary mood. Next time, I promise!

@Kaiser Chiefs: I heard you were the highlight of the weekend for many. I feel bad now that I was so far back & couldn't see. I'm a hot weather wimp.

@The Hood Internet: Way to blow up the dance stage, guys! Seriously. Local boys represent!

@Tool: I wouldn't say I was ever a fan of you, but you sounded amazing. How is Maynard so soft-spoken with pipes like that?

@Prophit: You were certainly energetic and entertaining, but I liked you more before I found out you were Perry's nephew.

So if for some reason you haven't yet seen my hundreds upon hundreds o' pictures from the weekend, I give you the official Lolla photo roundup (The Facebook sets include some of the ones that are on Flickr, but Flickr doesn't include a lot of the ones that are on Facebook...get it?):
The best news is that we already have tickets for next year thanks to Jon, Dan and the $60 SUPER early bird sale last week. I'm buying a poncho in advance (and maybe an extra camera battery)! See you there?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Letter of Intent

Hopefully at some point over the next few days, I'll have the chance to sit, ponder and write about Lollapalooza and everything else that's been going on over the past few weeks. I've already uploaded my photos everywhere, as has Jon, but sometimes pictures and their thousand words still can't tell the whole story. If this little blog is to succeed in its lofty goal of helping me remember more about my present life well into the future, I've got to take the time to add to it, right?

I already have years and years of my life that aren't documented in any way. I've had to throw out letters and mementos over the course of three major moves and while the purging of "stuff" is always somewhat liberating, it means that I have only my memory to rely on. And let's face it, even at my age, memory is iffy at best. I don't think any pictures even exist of me from the ages of 20-25. I had no camera. I had little money and even less motivation to get one. I think this is the best way I can explain why I love taking so many pictures now.

Speaking of, I finally signed up for Flickr pro after years of avoiding it. I don't really agree with having to pay $25 a year, but it's nice to be able to organize things into sets and having the capacity for unlimited uploads is pretty rad too.

For tonight, I will leave you with my favorite moment from Lolla -- meeting Glasvegas:

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Pitchfork Revisited

Weeks like this week make me wish I had a few more hours in each day. I would have loved to stay up late last Sunday night to write about Pitchfork while it was really fresh in my mind, but alas, life gets in the way of my creative endeavors once again. I enjoyed Pitchfork far more this year than last, despite a less exciting lineup (in my opinion). The only act I was really looking forward to seeing was The Flaming Lips, so I decided to just make the best of being outdoors, people-watching and hearing some music that I haven't had the chance to check out yet.

We skipped Friday night, even though we had tickets. I was exhausted, since I hadn't been sleeping right all week (stitches in my head = uncomfortable nights in bed, boooo) and to be honest, I'm just not great at going out on Fridays anymore. I also knew pretty much nil about the bands playing Friday, other than the fact that I "should" like Yo La Tengo and Built to Spill, but never gave them a fair chance. It was also really cold and rainy, so I pulled an "I don't wanna" and skipped it. In hindsight, I'm 100% glad I did, because being rested for the weekend definitely helped me enjoy it more.

We got there on Saturday just in time for The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, who were decent enough. Poppy, summery, upbeat sort of music, even though their name seems to suggest a certain level of angst.

Towards the middle/end of their set, we decided to grab a bite to eat so we were free to roam about for the rest of the day, and this proved to be a very wise decision. As I was walking with my strange vegan tempeh dish in hand, I heard Jon yelling my name. I turned around to see him talking to none other than Charlyne Yi and Jake Johnson (mentioned in my previous post) from Paper Heart. I was shocked and rambled on about nerdy things, as I do when I meet people I admire. They were both very sweet and they seemed not to be annoyed with us stopping them, though we were praising their film, so who would be annoyed at that, right? I'm kind of bummed that I didn't ask for a picture, but it was completely unplanned and I had food and water in my hands and didn't even think to get out my camera. Oh well, live and learn.

So Jon got some food and we met up with Catherine, who we know through Jon's brother Matt. She was kind enough to let Jon stay with her when he was up here apartment hunting and she is just really cool and sweet in general. She also has great taste in music and comedy, so how could I not like her, right? We hung around with Catherine and her friend, Kate, for the rest of the day, which was really nice. Good company and an abundance of people-watching opportunities always make for an enjoyable afternoon, in my world.

(More people to watch HERE)

Bands/artists we checked out that day: Final Fantasy, Beirut, DOOM, Ponytail, and finally, The National. I've seen The National twice before, both times in very different settings (first at the Club Downunder at FSU and again when they opened for REM at the United Center). Seeing them outdoors was cool, but they sounded pretty much the same. They aren't the most dynamic band live, but towards the end of their set, there was a cool moment when Matt jumped down into the space between the stage and the barrier and climbed up a garbage can to sing right to the crowd. He has such a great, deep voice. Give them a listen if you have never heard their stuff.

We left during the last song to beat the masses to the train (unlike Lolla, we can't just walk home from the park, and there's really only one way of getting out of there, so it can become quite the crazy mob scene at 10:00 when the bands stop playing). I like that it ends at 10:00, but it does sort of limit the headliners' sets. They only get about an hour and 20 minutes, which is nothing for bands that are used to playing for an hour and a half, going offstage for a bit and coming back on for an encore. Not complaining, just observing. Rules are rules.

Sunday was almost solely dedicated to The Flaming Lips. My plan all along was to get there and camp out right in front of the stage where they'd be playing. Jon was a little less keen on this plan, but ended up doing it anyway. I guess he figured it would be worth it to be close for their show (and ultimately, I think it was). We got to the park in time for The Thermals, who were pretty darn good and claimed our spot. We could faintly hear The Walkmen playing over on the other stage after The Thermals were done, but I do feel bad that Jon didn't get to head over there and see them for real. I think he was afraid to leave me at that point...he most likely wouldn't have been able to get back to where I was and he worries about me in crowds, I guess. Even though I've been to what seems like a million concerts over the years and I'm positive I'd be OK, it's always nice having someone there with you who cares about your well-being.

M83 played next on the stage we were camped out by and I have to say I'm glad we had the spot we did (good booking on the part of Pitchfork organizers!) because they were probably the highlight of my weekend. We'd seen them not too long ago opening for The Killers, and they were good then, but somewhat forgettable...

Apparently playing mid-day at an outdoor festival is the place to see them, because they were anything but forgettable this time. They had the crowd in the palm of their hands. Everyone around us was into it, whether they knew who M83 was or not. The couple right in front of us was adorable. They knew every word to every song and I think they'd come specifically to see them. I am not a huge fan of the techno/beat/dance genre of music, but they do it so well that you can't help but love it.

(Jon's M83 set HERE)

Grizzly Bear played on the other stage, so we couldn't hear them too well, but from everything I was reading on Twitter that day and the next, we didn't miss much. No one in our vicinity was paying any attention to the other stage anyway, because The Flaming Lips began setting up their stuff nearly an hour before their performance was set to start. All the excitement helped pass the time, which I appreciated very much. Wayne Coyne paced back and forth, talked to roadies, talked to the rest of the band, talked to the people in the front. He took "gifts" from them. Why the quotes? Well, the "gifts" included such treasures as a pirate eye patch, a squirt gun, and a used (probably sweaty) flannel shirt. It was all very entertaining, I must say (because I'm easily amused).

Right as they took the stage for real, though, the crowd began their usual "let's all rush the stage" push, which was slightly more intense than I think I've ever seen before. It was Sunday and people had been drinking and partaking in other (more illegal) substances for two and a half days straight. They were full of adrenaline, aggression, and drugs, and not really thinking about anything but having a good time for the last time that night. Factor in that the audience was roughly 70% male in the front, and you have a recipe for possible danger. Luckily, the worst we got was slightly crushed, a mildly injured big toe, a kick in the head and a glasses scare, so all in all, I probably won't remember the bad in the long run. Jerks in the audience aside, it was a really incredible show.

(Jon's Flaming Lips set HERE)

The Flaming Lips know how to keep your attention, even after an extremely long weekend seeing band after band after band. They pulled out all the stops: the hamster ball rolling around over our heads, the costumes, the confetti, the giant screen beaming colorful images from behind them, huge balloons for the crowd to smack around, and as usual, lots of between-song banter. They originally signed up to do a "Write the Night" set, which was voted on by anyone who had purchased Pitchfork tickets. Then they backed out. Then, due to controversy over this decision, agreed to stick to the original plan and let the ticketholders vote. Once they were up there, however, "Write the Night" pretty much got thrown out the window. They did play the top two songs from the list, Do You Realize? and Yoshimi, but they would have anyway.

All in all, it was a good set. They played two brand new songs (obviously not voted on by anyone), as well as Bad Days, a personal favorite of mine which they haven't played live in ages (since 1998?) and Mountain Side, which they might never play live?

It was a great way to end the night and I'm glad Jon stuck around for it, because I would've felt a little closer to death had he not been there to protect me. The two (pretty tiny) girls next to us seemed grateful for his protection too. I won't get into it in this post, since it's long enough already, but I do have a huge issue with drunk guys at concerts not knowing their own strength and making life hell for everyone around them for a few hours. It's highly unfair to those of us who don't happen to be as tall, muscular, or rowdy as they are and I really feel like it needs to stop. Maybe it's just because I'm getting older, or maybe it's because the problem is getting worse and people care less and less about others, but it bothers me a lot more now than it ever did. Look for a ranty post on concert etiquette from me in the future (I know you can't wait, right?).

Don't want to end things on that note, so I'll talk for a second about In The Loop, a movie we saw on Wednesday. If you like quick, snarky humor (especially of the British variety), you'll love this film. It's based around the politics leading up to the Iraq war, but it's funny...I know that might seem counterintuitive, but you'll just have to believe me. Check out some reviews or at least the trailer. It's worth a look.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Paper Heart

We just got back from a screening of Paper Heart, a half-documentary, half-film about love. While that may sound cheesy, it's really not.

Charlyne Yi and Jake Johnson were on hand for a Q&A after the screening and they were just as funny and adorable in real life. Jake is actually from Chicago as well, so a few members of his family were there to see it along with us. I don't like recommending films that I think some people may not like, but I have no hesitation when it comes to putting my stamp of approval on this one.

It's sweet, quirky, funny, honest, charming, and pretty unique. If you're one of those people who doesn't like Michael Cera because he always plays himself, though, you definitely won't like this. He literally plays Michael Cera. Everyone else, enjoy!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Tonight, I Write

I am sorry, dear blog, that I have neglected you. I have a feeling it is a combination of summer interfering with my downtime and me feeling completely unmotivated (read: intimidated) to write at length about anything when I do have the time. Well, here's what's been up with me:

I had surgery on Friday. My first surgery, in fact (yay?). While I was terrified, it was a relatively minor deal and much less painful than I thought it would be. Now I have stitches, which get removed on Monday. If anyone needs a plastic surgeon (don't worry, I didn't get anything fun like a new nose) in Chicago, I now know a great one. His assistants are lovely as well. One of them has a daughter named Alissa Marie (my middle name is Marie, in case you didn't know). She is 30 (I'm almost 29). I'm sure she is an absolutely lovely, gorgeous, intelligent, and well-rounded person, though I may be biased.

Pitchfork is this weekend. In 2008, I had the dreaded boot (walking cast) to hobble around in, and it looks like 2009 is the year of the stitches in my head (I'd take stitches over the boot any day, for the record). Hopefully all will be well again in time for Lolla, though. Truth be told, Lolla is much more important to me again this year, despite the rather lackluster lineups associated with both festivals. I'm excited about Depeche

While I'm still sort of on the subject of medical problems, I'd like to say something about the proposed healthcare reform bill. Don't worry, I won't delve too deeply into it on here, because I don't think any kind of social networking site is necessarily the right forum for serious political discourse. I did, however, have a lengthy conversation last night with my boyfriend about the issue. I don't mean to label him, but I think it needs to be said that he is a Republican because as a Democrat, we have differing opinions on the matter and yet were able to have a civilized chat about it and not piss each other off too much in the process. That's where so much of it goes wrong in my opinion...once you throw broad-reaching insults like "crazy Democrats" into the mix, you are most likely eliminating the possibility of having a rational discussion. One party gets defensive, and it devolves from there into partisan blahbityblah.

The topic of healthcare insurance is near and dear to my heart, since I had none between the ages of 18 and 28. Luckily, I didn't have a medical crisis. I fractured my leg last year about two months before my coverage kicked in, so I walked around on it for those two months and then got it fixed. It got me thinking, though...what if it had been something that couldn't wait two months? What if something worse had happened when I was just 18? I thought I was invincible, but truth is, I was just stupid and lucky. Millions of people know what it's like to worry every day about their health and wonder how they're going to afford care if they need it. It is the MOST important issue in our country. Period. And something needs to be done.

Maybe...just maybe, before you start calculating how much it will cost you as an individual, you should take a moment and think about what it might mean to someone else to have a sense of security that they've never had and that many of us take for granted.

I know many don't agree with the President's plan. I don't know enough of the specifics of it to dissect it with any degree of accuracy, but I do believe that this administration's goal of healthcare reform is grounded in good intentions. The idea is to get more people on cheaper plans and to force the large healthcare conglomerates that are overcharging to rethink and retool their rates. I don't know if this outcome is entirely possible, or if it will truly cost those who are currently on plans through their employers thousands of extra dollars each year. I do know, however, that something needs to happen. This is a scary time when a lot of Americans are out of work and out of insurance. Not everyone will be as lucky as I was, and it gets me choked up to just think about it. What I'm trying to say, as simply as I can think to say it, is that this is a serious issue that can not and should not be overly summarized, simplified, and made to seem black and white. You are not going to change anyone's mind in 140 characters or less, nor should you try to. The plan is not all bad and it is not all good. The sooner people realize this, the faster we may see a more agreeable compromise.

And now onto something much less depressing and much more enjoyable!

Two videos you must see:

1) I mentioned The Boxer Rebellion a while back. In fact, I put together a whole post on why you should love them, or at least give them a chance. Well, I checked out their website again today to see what was new and found out a few things. First off, they are releasing physical copies of their newest album in a few countries, but not the U.S...yet. Next, it seems they are playing shows in Toronto and New York City, but not Chicago...yet. Finally, they have a newish video up which perfectly showcases why I adore them as much as I do...they are just so good live. Give it a little listen, will ya? What can it hurt?

2) Aziz Ansari is one of the comic geniuses behind Human Giant. He is a regular on Parks & Recreation. He was responsible for one of the funniest scenes in Observe & Report. And now, he's making mocumentary-type promos for the forthcoming film, Funny People (which really truly honestly looks to be very very funny, people). He is Raaaaaaaandy...a character that almost too blatantly serves as a critique on the "comedy" of Dane Cook and others like him (all style, no substance, as they say).

Moving right along, the Sears Tower is changing its name to Willis Tower tomorrow, so on the way home I thought I'd stop by and say goodbye to the old name. Problem is, there's nothing to say goodbye to! There is no sign of the word "Sears" anywhere around the building anymore. All signage has been replaced, with the new logo up, but fully covered in anticipation of the big reveal tomorrow. If I were a tourist, I think I would be mighty confused. I have a feeling it will perplex quite a few who have no idea that the change is even happening. I plan to go back and explore the new, terrifyingly-named addition to the 103rd floor Skydeck, "The Ledge," in a few weeks, assuming Dan is game when he's in town for Lolla. I feel much better about doing touristy things when I am with an actual tourist, you see.

I've seen a few films:

1) Transformers 2 - just as dreadful as everyone said it was
2) The Hangover - just as hilarious as everyone said it was
3) Bruno - funny, in a Curb Your Enthusiasm kind of way, where the humor comes from the cringey moments that you can see coming, but hope you're wrong about
4) Ice Age 3D - pretty much the same as the other two, but it's in 3-motherflippin-D, yo!

Well, I think it's time to call it a night. Political rants drain me. ;)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Bowie's in Space

(Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics)

Jon and I were lucky enough to see a screening of Moon on Monday. I'm going to talk about it, but don't fret, I won't spoil anything for you. In fact, if you're going to go see this film, I would suggest not letting anyone spoil it. Don't read the reviews (except mine, obviously!). Don't even watch the trailer. Throw down your $8 and check it out if:

1) You trust my taste
2) You don't need sex scenes, explosions, or high-speed car chases to enjoy a movie
3) You like films that make you think (and give you a bit of a mindf*ck)
4) You're not opposed to something that could reasonably be classified as sci-fi
5) You enjoy watching really fantastic acting

Moon stars the versatile Sam Rockwell as Sam Bell and the voice of Kevin Spacey as Gerty, the robot who wears his emoticons on his sleeve. It takes place on the moon (surprise!) and it is fascinating in its simplicity. It starts out slowly and quietly, with the pace of the film and music perfectly conveying the monotony of everyday life away from Earth and completely alone. Part of the reason I enjoyed Moon so much was the acting of Rockwell. You feel for him when you see how the life of solitude is affecting him and you root for him to get back home and back to his wife and daughter.

Then things start happening. This is the stuff I won't give away, but I assure you, you will think you see what's coming, and you will only be half right. There is no Armageddon-style heightened drama, but it is dramatic.

Moon is the brainchild of Duncan Jones, sometimes known as Zowie or Joey Bowie. Yes, he is David Bowie's son and yes, from what I can tell, he inherited a few of his dad's odd sensibilities about life, space, and the universe. This is his first film and I can't wait to see his next.

There is the weird sci-fi mix of artificial intelligence, science gone wild, questions of right and wrong, uncertainty about what is real and what is imagined, the unknowns of space, and the mysteries of the human mind.

It wasn't like Donnie Darko, where I left the theater questioning what I saw and wondering how it all fit together, but the next day I was definitely still thinking about it. I kept remembering little tidbits here and there that I might not have fully appreciated at the time. I had a few "Ah-ha!" moments and came to a few realizations about what I think he meant by some of the choices he made with the storyline. I may have overthought some of it (as is my style), but with movies I enjoy trying to wrap my mind around the "bigger picture."

So have I convinced you yet?

Tomorrow: Public Enemies screening after work. Very excited about this one as well!

Major thanks to Gapers Block for the screenings, as usual. If you're in Chicago and don't read the site or follow them on Twitter, you're missing out!

Monday, June 01, 2009

Y Control

Currently watching the hot mess that is I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here and loving it already. I thought I remembered watching the original season, which was years and years ago, and after reading this on Wikipedia, I'm certain of it. This is where my dislike of Melissa Rivers began, in fact:

The first season of the American version was originally aired by ABC in 2003. John Lehr was the host, and the ten contestants were Cris JuddMelissa Rivers"Stuttering" John MelendezBruce JennerTyson BeckfordMaria Conchita AlonsoDowntown Julie BrownNikki Schieler ZieringAlana Stewart, and Robin Leach. Judd won the series, with Rivers in second place, and Melendez placing third.
But I won't talk too much about the show, because you're either watching it too or you don't care. As far as what I've been up to lately, I'll work backwards, because that's about the only way I can think right now. I just literally spent the entire weekend in bed and on the couch. I had a minor cold, but a major backache. I don't know what I did to it, but it hurt to all. Friday was the final straw for the back. It felt progressively worse as the day wore on, but I still had the Doves concert that night. Maybe the worst thing I could've done (standing around for 6 hours and trying to dance/sway with the music), I did. And then I paid for it all day Saturday and all day Sunday. Thank god for heating pads and ibuprofen. I'm feeling a bit better now, though, so it was worth it to take it easy (ie. waste my entire weekend).

So back to the Doves concert...I enjoyed it, was really hard to forget about how much pain I was in. I feel like I would've liked it more had I been feeling better, but you can't always have everything the way you want it all the time. At least I got to go, right? They're a band that I never thought I would see live, so it was a nice surprise. They played a pretty tight set. Not too long, not too short. They gave us a little bit of banter, and they seemed in good spirits. Doves don't exactly play the sort of music that would make you jump around too much, so it was a much more mellow crowd than I've experienced lately. We also made a new acquaintance with great taste in music and talked with some cool people. 

In fact, we ended up hanging out in front of the venue until after midnight talking with James, another Gapers Block staffer and friend of Jon's brother Matt. This inadvertantly led to us getting the opportunity to shake hands with the band and take a few photos as they left the venue. They were actually headed to Sheffield's after the show and I totally wanted to join them but it's probably for the best that we didn't. It would have been creepy to follow them and as I said, I was barely able to hold myself upright.

We got to see the new Pixar film, Up, on Wednesday. I feel like I enjoy each Pixar film more than the last and this was no exception. It was touching, funny, colorful, fun, sad, and much much more. From what I've read, lots of people agree, so if you haven't seen it yet, it's a pretty safe bet that you'll dig it. But if you can see it in 3D, please do.

Tuesday, we went all the way back up to our old hood to see the Yeah Yeah Yeahs at the Aragon Ballroom. The crowd was young. Really young. It was a little intimidating, considering that I'd worked a full 8-hour day and was still wearing my business clothing. I felt a bit old and a bit tired, but as soon as the music started that all went away. As if Karen O. weren't already the main event, the rest of the band were hidden in smoke for a good part of the show. She was all over the stage, though. It was the Karen O. show all the way, and she put on a damn good one. Her clothes, as always, were as loud as the music.

There was dancing, there was moshing, there was sweating like I've never experienced before. I was drenched head-to-toe when I left, and so was everyone else. Besides almost getting my hair ripped out of my head at one point, it was a really great time. The YYYs only played for a little over an hour, though, due to the all ages show and the two opening acts. I guess the curfew was 10pm, which is good, considering it was a week night, but also extremely limiting. As a side note, if you don't have their newest album, It's Blitz!, you should check it out. It's really excellent.

What did we do last weekend? No, seriously...I can't remember that far back. That's what I get for not blogging, eh? We didn't do anything on Monday, due to the rain and the fact that Jon was pretty sick. Oh, I remember! Patrick's (one of my co-workers) birthday was on Saturday (meaning two Saturdays ago, I guess) so we went to an awesome pub called Galway Arms. The place was pretty big, there's a huge patio, and GREAT music. That might be my new hangout place when I need to schedule a get-together.

I need to get ready for bed (this seems to be a theme in my posts...perhaps I should try to write faster and get this thing done earlier than 10pm), but I have one last piece of news that made me really happy this week. Warn the masses, THE CHARLATANS ARE COMING! That's right, my favorite band of all time will be making an appearance in Chicago this September. Now, while that seems like a really long time from now, I bought my tickets for the show this week. I could not be more excited! Not only are they playing at a teeny tiny venue (which holds about 550 people), this is the first time I won't have to travel to see them. First Reading Festival in England, then Orlando, then back to England at the Hammersmith Palais, now home sweet home Chicago at the Double Door. Tickets still available at the moment.

What more could a girl ask for?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Somewhere Only We Know

Keane came out swinging last night and by the end of the evening, had knocked us all out. I'm always surprised when I remember that they only have three albums, because the sheer number of memorable, catchy, beautiful songs in their repertoire trumps some bands that have been around for ages.

It was, by far, the loudest show I've ever been to on this side of the pond. I can't even think of a close second. I'm going to generalize here and say that I've noticed American crowds (as a whole...there are always pockets of enthusiasm, usually towards the middle-front) just aren't as "into it" as most British crowds. This probably has a lot to do with the (mostly British) bands I choose to see, but it's what I've encountered. Chicago crowds are a bit better than Florida crowds, though. Sorry, Florida! Anyway, for the first time, I didn't necessarily feel like I was in America while I was at a concert. Somewhere in the middle of their set, lead singer Tom Chaplin, who was fairly chatty throughout the night, proclaimed:
"I think it's fair to say that this has been the best show of our tour so far."
[After about a four minute applause break]

"Now I just have to figure out a way to shut you all up so we can sing the song!"
You can just tell when a band enjoys a show. To say that Keane were appreciative of the audience would be an understatement. They gave us back all the love we gave them and more. Chuffed is the best word I can think of to describe their mood. Something that's always fascinated me is the way that concertgoers and bands play off of each other, because I think every band is different in that respect. I've been to gigs where you can tell that the artist would put on the same exact show no matter what the audience's reaction was. Then there are times like last night, where you can see that the band is feeding off of the reaction of the crowd and their energy actually builds and the show becomes even better than anyone ever thought it could be. This was the perfect synergy (Perfect Symmetry?) that we all experienced at the beautiful Aragon Ballroom. The room that Tom said made him feel like he was "at Disneyland"...which, of course, makes it the happiest place on Earth.

There was a sad moment when Tom made reference to some issues that had prevented them from coming back to Chicago sooner. Keane, of course, had to cancel their last U.S. tour because of drug problems, which he didn't specifically address, but the implication was obviously there. He looked good. Happy, energetic...I always want to use the word sprightly to describe him, but that's just because he's so darn adorable. Keyboardist Tim was also all over the stage and headbanging in his sparkly shirt. They were so much fun to watch. I must make quick mention of how sweaty Tom was by the end. It was really incredible. Literally head-to-toe.
So although I was tired as HELL from my early morning and hours of working out earlier in the day at the SELF Magazine Workout in the Park (which I will write about soon, because that was #2 on my list of things I need to put in my blog), I had no problem finding the energy to rock, thanks to the band and the crazy crowd. This was my second time seeing Keane, but my first time seeing them with Jon, so it was extra special. If you don't know their music, you can check out some of their stuff on YouTube, including a song that has quickly become my workout jam, Spiralling. I would love to embed a video here, but I'm finding more and more that the function has been disabled by the record companies. I don't really understand the thinking behind that, because either way, people are hearing about their bands and checking out their music, but what can you do? They're worth a little clicking around, though.

I'm Warning You

I have three separate ideas for blog posts, so if I can find the time tomorrow, you're in for it!

For reference, does anyone like Keane besides Jon and I? I'll probably post about the gig either way and try to convince you that you should...but I want to know nonetheless.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Temporarily Out of Order

So this happened to my computer last week, forcing a temporary hiatus from all things technological. It's since gotten much worse. The crack now reaches almost completely across the screen and the (dramatic) white space at the bottom is widening by the day. I suppose I could have gotten it fixed, but I don't know how much it would cost for parts and labor on a cracked screen and I didn't really care to do the required research. Considering the damn machine is over 3 years old, the 80 GB hard drive is completely full and it's been running like molasses recently anyway, I decided to break the bank and just get a new one. So here I am, waiting for my shiny new (Cherry Red) toy for who knows how long...hopefully I'll have it by next weekend. If not, I might be going nuts.

In a way, getting me away from the computer for two weeks is probably is a good thing, but the waiting process is a little excruciating. I even went to the gym today...on purpose! I mean, c'mon! It's amazing how addicted I've become to my laptop, phone, camera and iPod. It would be hard for me to truly live without any of those things for an extended amount of time. My name is Alissa, and I have a problem.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Make the Trek

Apparently I love J.J. Abrams. I've watched LOST and Fringe regularly since they began and I was really excited about Cloverfield, but watching Star Trek last Thursday finally solidified it for me. I can't even think of anyone to compare him to in the industry, past or present. He's quickly building his very own Sci Fi (or is it SyFy now?) empire where monsters are real, life is mysterious, heroes are human and fallible, and the past/present/future is never completely set in stone.

I won't spoil any of the movie for you, so no worries if you're reading this. I will just say that J.J. took the Star Trek world that everyone knew and he turned it on its head. Not only is it fresh and exciting again, but it can go wherever it wants in the future due to a clever bit of writing. There were definitely references (shout-outs) to the TV series and films of the past, but they're not done in an overly cheesy manner that distracts from everything else going on (not going to lie, there were a few "wink wink" moments put in specifically for the die-hards). I think that given the inherent far-fetched nature of any Sci Fi story, this one was pulled off in the most plausible way possible. There are scenes (especially early on) that I feel were slightly unnecessary, but I suppose those are more about the character set-ups than anything else.

Speaking of characters, every single one of them is bad-ass. Kirk gets beaten up in every way possible by everyone possible. The action scenes are really well done and visually, it is absolutely stunning. The acting is pretty spot-on, only occasionally going over-the-top. In my opinion, this is a testament to the near-perfect casting of the film (Winona Ryder does NOT need to be in this, but...whatever). One of the most important things for any story to be successful is to make the audience care about the characters in one way or another. You don't have to love everyone, but you have to have some sort of emotional stake in the outcome, or you might as well just walk out of the theater. Whether it was the writing or the acting or a combination of the two, I did care.

Luckily, Star Trek never stumbles into the trap of becoming a caricature of itself or the genre, which, let's face it, it could have done very easily. One sure sign that you may like it: the guy in the theater dressed as Captain Kirk was apparently raving about it afterward...

It's not just for the Trekkies, though, kids! Jon, who has openly stated that he believes Star Trek is "the dorkiest thing ever," enjoyed it just as much as the hardcore fans. I'm somewhere in between fan and apathetic towards the Trek, but I would pay to see this again. This is a big deal coming from me, because I am usually staunchly against viewing films more than once (with notable exceptions like The Dark Knight, Trainspotting and a few others).

There you have it, folks. Well, there you have as much as I can say until you go see it and we can discuss go do it because I'm dying to talk about this!!!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

All I Want to Do is Rock

Somehow, in between all of the weird medical problems I've had over the past few weeks (Don't worry, I won't get into it here because who wants to read about that?), I've managed to see three concerts, a live performance of This American Life at the Chicago Theatre, celebrate a friend's birthday and my four-year anniversary with the boyfriend.

Before I say anything about any of that, though, I just want to give a shout-out to @Glasgowgirl, who posted a link to my blog on a Glasvegas forum. While it's kind of strange to think about anyone actually reading anything I write, I hope at least one or two people enjoyed what I had to say in my last entry. I just had to share my love and excitement for the show and the band in general.

So let me get started by talking about yet another Scottish band. Rounding out my Scottish music trifecta for the month, we have (Primal Scream, Glasvegas aaaand...) Travis. Yes, we saw Death Cab for Cutie the night before we saw Travis, but do I really need to talk about Death Cab? What is there to say? Ben Gibbard was ridiculously thin. I wouldn't have recognized him on the street, that's for sure. They sounded great, they played a really nice set, the opening acts (Ra Ra Riot & Cold War Kids) were good as well. The crowd was a strange mix of concertgoers. My feet hurt a LOT by the end.

(Jon's Death Cab/Cold War Kids/Ra Ra Riot pictures on Flickr)

But let me get back to what I really want to talk about (Sorry, Death Cab! I love you. I do.). We didn't even have tickets to the Travis show. Neither Jon nor I were ever in love with their two most recent albums and the tickets were more expensive than most, so we decided to skip it...until he took a look at Craigslist and found a really sweet deal from some hockey fans who chose the Blackhawks playoff game over the concert. So, we went.

(The Republic Tigers)

The opening band, The Republic Tigers, impressed me enough that they are now on my iPod. Everyone around me enjoyed them, especially when they sang this cover of Blondie's 'Heart of Glass' with a falsetto that rivals Tim Burgess.

Then Travis came on and all hell broke loose. Lots of surprises. Halfway through one of their songs (forgive me for not being able to remember which one), Fran completely stopped the music. He apologized and informed us that every time he put his mouth to the microphone, he was being shocked. In the mouth. He sort of chastized whoever it was that was supposed to fix the problem, which apparently had been happening in sound check as well. They put a new, dry foam cover on the mic, to which he rolled his eyes and made a comment about it getting wet again in no time. I was suddenly struck with a feeling that the show would be cancelled right then and there. Luckily, Fran persevered and it wasn't. Needless to say, the rest of the show, I felt really really bad for him because I know it was happening a lot. They eventually rigged some sort of cover for it, but you could tell it didn't work. Occasionally I'd look up and catch him trying not to get too close to the microphone as he sang. I'll tell you what, didn't affect the quality of performance at ALL.

Surprise #2 came when the band introduced a guy, who had contacted them on MySpace and asked if he could come to the show (all the way from Dallas) and propose to his girlfriend on stage. She is apparently a really big fan and it was a really sweet moment. They then got to sit on the stage, right in front of the drum kit, during 'Humpty Dumpty Love Song'. They then dedicated the next song to a woman in the audience (who had also contacted them online somehow) who was eight months pregnant. If I ever get to see Travis again, I'm totally writing to them beforehand. I just need a good story.

(She said yes.)

Surprise #3 came during the first song of the encore. Sick and tired of being electrocuted, Fran came out with his guitar, told us all to be very very quiet, and sang us a song sans-mic and amp. I don't know if the people in the back of the Vic could hear anything, but where we were, it was magic. I was shocked at how quiet everyone actually was. Jon took a video...sideways...

The rest of the encore was played in the usual manner, but they skipped the very last song that was on their setlist (I'm guessing because Fran was over the whole microphone situation). Unfortunately for Jon, it's one of his favorite songs that they skipped.

(Random lady showing off her setlist)

I don't know how to describe why they were so good live. They had an energy that few bands I've seen have. They were jumping and climbing and rolling around on the floor and then climbing some more, and just generally rocking out. I missed seeing them at V2002 due to injury (the band's, not mine), but I don't mind that any more. I'd much rather my first time be exactly as it was.

What else happened?

1) The full, official Lollapalooza lineup was announced on Tuesday. I know it's going to be a good time. No Blur, but I knew that possibility was gone weeks ago. Looks like I'm going to get to see Glasvegas again!

2) Wednesday was my four-year anniversary with Jon. We had a delicious dinner at what is fast becoming my neighborhood go-to restaurant, Hackney's.

3) We saw This American Life live on stage this past Sunday. It was interesting to see these people that I listen to all the time. Mike Birbiglia always has great stories, and the one he told for this show was no different. The real star, though, was Dan Savage. He told a story about his mother's passing. Every time he got choked up, I got choked up. There is something so strange about someone standing in front of a crowd, talking to them about such a personal experience.

4) I've been on some serious antibiotics all week, which has made me loopy and tired and has me feeling like I'm in a daze.

5) I haven't mentioned the Mates of State/Black Kids/Sunbears show. It was fun, but I feel like it was so long ago now that I don't know what to say about it! It's been less than two weeks!!! I'm getting old and forgetful. I haven't even uploaded the pictures yet. Oops. I'm spoiled and I know it.

6) It's supposed to be 80 degrees this weekend. THAT is news.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Welcome to Glasvegas

I've been spoiled lately as far as concerts go. Last night was no exception. If you haven't heard of Glasvegas, you're not alone, but look out because that may change very soon. It's not that I wasn't looking forward to seeing them's just that I didn't really think about it much in advance. Look at my last post. I mention the show almost in passing. Do you see where I'm going with this? I had little to no expectations, but when all was said and done, they BLEW MY FREAKING MIND. Maybe it's the lack of sleep resulting from the later-than-usual show and this all will wear off tomorrow, but today, they're all I want to listen to. I have a musical crush, and I have fallen hard.

(More pictures HERE)

Last night was the first time I've been to Bottom Lounge. It's huge. There's the main bar, the actual music venue, the upstairs bar and a large patio. Each of these spaces is easily the size of most other bars and restaurants I've been to in Chicago. I don't know what the "cool kid" consensus is on Bottom Lounge, but I thought it was a great space and I'd go back and see a gig there any day. Most of the venues here are old theaters, which is nice, but this place is more like a warehouse in the middle of nowhere. It's a beautiful warehouse, mind you. With good music.

Both of the opening acts that were originally scheduled pulled out, or something else happened to them to make them disappear. So we got Von Iva. They're a rocking female three-piece from San Francisco (which they made sure to point out between every song). The lead singer had a bit of a Karen O. vibe going for her, and girl can sing! She wore short shorts and thigh-high boots and looked like she could (and would) beat the shit out of anyone who got in her way. I love a good frontperson, and that she was. I haven't had a ton of great luck with opening acts lately, but I think I might have to check them out.

I discovered Glasvegas about a year and a half ago though, of all places, MySpace. I was at a point where I felt stagnant musically and was trying desperately to seek out anything new that might make me feel like my go-to bands make me feel. At the time, they didn't have an album out, but I got ahold of their EP and loved it. When their album came out, I have to admit, I didn't listen to it for a while. I put it on the backburner because I was listening to a lot of "winter music" like Ryan Adams and just wasn't ever in the mood. When I finally did give it a fair shot, I liked it, but only listened once or twice and again forgot about it. It was only when Jon bought us tickets to see them a few months back that I put it on rotation in my iPod again.

They're Scottish. They have some of the thickest accents you've ever heard in music (completely different from Primal Scream), but somehow, even if you don't understand all of the words, you get what they're saying. They have such an interesting range of sounds, from slow acoustic to dark, almost electronic, to garage punk. I was hoping that their album would translate well live, and it did. What surprised me the most about the show, though, was the crowd. I think it surprised the band too. There were a few times when the lead singer, James, looked pretty genuinely touched that everyone (at least where I was standing) was so into it.

During the last song of the set, 'Daddy's Gone', he stopped singing and let the crowd take over, which, I must say, we succeeded in doing and then some. We were suddenly at a football match, chanting along, one big happy chorus/family/group of fans all cheering for the same team to succeed. Yes, this happens at concerts with some frequency, but for a relatively unknown band playing in America (I don't listen to the radio, so if they are on the radio regularly, then color me dead wrong, but I don't think they are) with the aforementioned heavy accents, it must've been pretty mind-blowing, no?

On a side note, I do find it a little weird that the biggest sing-along of the night (there were other, less intense sing-along moments during 'Go Square Go' and It's My Own Cheatin Heart That Makes Me Cry') came during a song that is so personal and painfully beautiful. As someone who openly admits to having some pretty legitimate daddy issues, 'Daddy's Gone' has always given me goosebumps as I listen alone in my headphones. So what was it like belting it out in a big crowd of people with the author of those words looking down on us? The only way I can think to describe it is cathartic in the most awkward way possible. Glasvegas -- therapists in training? Perhaps. Anyway, back on track...I'll never forget the looks on the faces of the band during that song in particular. Smiles that said, "Fuck yeah, we're doing it!" It was a great thing to be a part of. They thanked us, said something nice about Chicago, and James proceeded to kiss the hands of the women who were close enough to the stage to be kissed (mine included, which made me more than a little red in the face, I'm sure) and shake the hands of the guys.

(This is one of those moments where he kind of looked in awe of everything. Hand on head, mouth hanging open, etc. It was adorable.)

After they left the stage, we said hello to some people we knew and chatted for a while before taking off. Walking back to the train I was giddy. We ran into the lead guitarist, Rab, who I didn't even notice until I heard Jon say hi to him. He was still wearing his t-shirt and jeans, despite the 30 degree weather, which makes him tougher than I'll ever be, and chatting with some chick. I had no desire to bother him or intrude, so we did gave him the obligatory "Great guys are awesome...hope you enjoyed your first time in Chicago" and crossed the street to head up to the Green Line.

We made it home pretty late and by the time I got ready for bed and settled down it was already 2am. Today was rough, but it was all worth it. I can't stop gushing about what a great time I had. I haven't properly gushed about a concert since...Stereophonics*? Don't get me wrong, I've enjoyed all of the concerts I've been to in Chicago, it's just that I expect more out of some of them than others.

*I 've liked the Stereophonics for years and years, but I'd seen them before, in 1999 and 2002, and found them pretty boring. Maybe it was the venue, but when I saw them last year, they were a different band completely. Really really great and a pleasant surprise indeed.

So if you ever get the chance to see Glasvegas, take it! Tickets to our show were only $15, so they're affordable and worth every penny. If you have a few bucks to spare after getting your tickets, buy their album. I don't have to convince you to buy their album, because if you see them live, they'll convince you to buy their album.

I think you'll be hearing about them for decades to come. Allan McGee likes them, they make great music, and they are already making headway in the U.S. Not only was 'Geraldine' used in a Rhapsody commercial that was on TV regularly last year, but 'Daddy's Gone' was featured pretty prominently on last night's episode of Chuck -- fuck-word and all.