Concert Review: Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness

On April 29th, I made my way back home for a concert. Concerts are my favorite way to relieve some stress and to escape school work…or another mental breakdown as graduation approaches. Well, luckily for my best friend and I, we were able to escape reality and our crippling self-doubt about what the future has in store for us for about three hours and enter into the wilderness.

I have seen Andrew McMahon live various different times, each in a different city and at a different venue. Going into this performance, I knew it was going to be a unique show, in comparison to any of his other shows that I’ve been to. This show was compromised of an acoustic set. McMahon also would not be bringing his entire band to this show. Instead, he would be bringing along some friends. Some would be band mates from tour dates passed and others would be current band mates. Along with Andrew McMahon, Zac Clark, Bobby Oxblood, and Allen Stone all joined the show!

The night started with McMahon making his way onto the stage, which looked just how I could only imagine his own living room looks like. This includes a grand piano, a few picture frames filled with pets, and a toy train that rides along the piano. The set felt very welcoming, as if he was opening his home to all of his fans. As McMahon entered the stage in a sweater that closely resembled Mr. Rogers own, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” began to play throughout the venue. We were now officially in the neighborhood. A neighborhood of music lovers, who were coming together with one common purpose; to enjoy a Sunday night full of music.

Andrew McMahon played music from a range of projects he has been apart of. This included songs from both Jack’s Mannequin and Something Corporate, as well as a couple of bops from his current project, Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness. The show started solely with McMahon, but soon the stage began to fill up. Utilizing the unique set, one by one, each musician rang the doorbell before entering the stage. Of course, we welcomed them all into the neighborhood with open arms. First, came Zac Clark, then Bobby Oxblood, and finally, Allen Stone. The musicians made their way on and off stage throughout the show and each got to dabble with a solo piece here and there. Some even performed duets. To my surprise, I was completely blown away by a duet performed by Zac Clark and Allen Stone, called “Don’t Just Love Me Cause You’re Lonely.” It was easy to feel the emotions that these men were putting into this song, which is what music is all about.

As the night began to wind down, all of the musicians joined each other onstage to perform some classic songs for the crowd. In addition, McMahon and Stone physically made their way into the crowd to serenade some lucky concert goers. Upon entrance back to the stage, all four musicians came together to add beautiful vocal harmonies to McMahon’s piano playing. I could only imagine what listening to them while having synesthesia would be like.

Although McMahon did not perform crowd favorite, “Synesthesia,” he did perform some amazing jokes along with the other musicians. Not only did I feel like I was watching a concert, I felt like I was watching a tv show. Visually, the set made the show feel like it was straight out of a 90s sitcom. Furthermore, the jokes and light-hearted interactions with the crowd made me feel as if I was attending a stand-up comedy show. If they decided to start up a residency at Irving Plaza, they could probably give the SNL cast a few blocks away a good run for their money. Between the jokes and the music, I felt like I was just hanging out in a room with a couple hundred of my closest friends, a few who happen to be some of the most incredible musicians of our time. The only complaint I have about the show, is that it had to come to an end. The lights came back on and all I could think was that it surely was another beautiful day in the neighborhood!

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Behind the Scenes: What It’s Really Like to Work a Music Festival

We’ve all seen our friends trendy Instagram pictures of those cool music festivals they’ve attended over the summer. Yes, we know Coachella is the ultimate goal, but there are plenty of other festivals around the country and even around the world which are just as much fun, if not even more fun! Would it not be great if we could attend these music festivals with our friends on the budget of a broke college student? Well, lucky for all of you, there’s a way to attend that hot summer fest on a budget!

Last summer, I got a job at a music venue. My love for live music and addiction to concerts is exactly what inspired a summer of craziness, fun, and LOTS of music. Working at a venue, you get to have some pretty cool experiences, some that you never thought would happen, but the best part has to be the perks! The venue I worked at offers two large music festivals each summer. One is three days long and features EDM music, while the other is four days long and features an array of folk and rock artists. As a worker, I was excited to check out what each festival had to offer. I can say that you would probably never catch me spending my own money on a ticket to an EDM festival, (ask any of my friends) but it was definitely interesting to check out and experience!

When arriving at a festival for your first shift, you will receive a GA/worker wristband, which is good for the entire duration of the festival. Shifts can vary in length, but I opted to work 12 hour shifts each day. I know what you’re thinking, I am a complete crazy person! Let’s be honest here though, you’re at a music festival. You are not going to need time to sleep anyway. If you are not spending your time working, you are probably spending your time checking out the musical acts. In addition, when working a festival, you are usually offered free on-site tent camping. It makes life a lot easier when all you have to do in the morning is get up and walk to whatever destination you will be working at for the day.

The place you could always find me working on festival days, was at the box office. Working the box office, you get to meet some pretty awesome music fans. (and some not so awesome ones, but that’s just life) You will also get to meet some artists too. If you’re anything like me, you probably won’t even recognize that there is an artist in front of you. This job may sound picture perfect so far, but it is in no means a perfect job. This is a pretty face paced job. You have to be prepared for anything to be thrown your way. Sometimes you will have to deal with crazy customer requests or crazy artist requests. You will also have to be prepared to take on job tasks you did not think were expected of you and you may even get moved to a totally different location, with a different job task all in one shift. If you are not prepared to work in a fast paced, ever changing environment like so, then this isn’t the job for you.

If you have yet to back out and have risen to the challenge, then take out those ear plugs, because you will definitely want to hear about all of the perks a festival worker experiences! If you are anything like me, you were brought to this job for one reason and one reason only; to see live music! After you get off of your shift, meet up with some friends or some new people you’ve met during your shift at work and go catch some of the acts! Your ticket into the festival will be free. Once inside, you will realize that these festivals are about so much more than just the music! They are about music, art, food, and community. Artists will be gathered around the site, selling their artwork, as well as food vendors, who will be there to sell you those deliciously unique foods. (Yes, we know they’re overpriced, but they’re totally Instagram worthy!) Once you check out all of the vendors, you can go check out your favorite artists. I also suggest going to check out some that you’ve never heard of. Who knows, maybe you’ll find your new favorite band?! Music starts bright and early each day and usually does not end until the sun comes back up once again. Even if you work a twelve hour shift, you’ll still catch some of the acts. If there a specific artist you plan on seeing, you are sometimes able to organize your work schedule, so you are able to attend the performance.

Finally, there are a few other things to remember when working a music festival. Remember that this is your JOB. Take it seriously when on your shift, because you never know what adventures it will lead to in the future! Also, make sure you come prepared for the festival, just as a festival goer would. Pack lots and lots of water and make sure you stay hydrated. While on your shift, water will most likely be provided for you, as well as a few meal vouchers to get you through the day. If you are camping, baby wipes are a must in order to stay clean, in addition to private staff showers that you will have access too. It also never hurts to pack sunscreen and insect repellant, as you will be spending most of your time outside. Now for the final act, go out and enjoy a festival experience like no other. You will surely want to do it all over again next summer!

You Should Be Loving… The 1975

We can all imagine the insane atmosphere every concert goer experiences while watching their favorite band play live. That thrilling twist of emotions, like you’re riding through corkscrew after corkscrew on your favorite roller coaster. Now, let’s take this and multiply it by ONE THOUSAND, NINE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-FIVE. (Haha get it) That’s right, nothing will be able to top the experience of seeing your favorite band at the most famous arena in the world, Madison Square Garden.

Luckily for me, I don’t have to travel far to get to the Garden. All I need is a $6.50 train ticket to Penn Station, 40 minutes to spare, and a little extra patience for battling people’s luggage for a seat on the train. I attended the show with my older sister and my best friend. It was the second time my sister and I have seen The 1975 perform live. The first time came a little less than a year before the sold out MSG show. I somehow found myself on Jack Antonoff’s guest list for his small music festival in Asbury Park, NJ, which The 1975 were headlining. I couldn’t find anybody to go with me to that show, so I practically begged my sister to come with me. She originally told me she did not like The 1975 or their music, but after watching their performance, she became a fan of the band.

Fast forward to June 1st, 2017, and I’m now seeing the band again in the city that never sleeps. I bought my tickets online a few months before the event and I’m glad I did. The concert ended up being sold out! To me, I could not fathom that I saw this band play the parking lot of the famous NJ venue, The Stone Pony, to a crowd of a few hundred people less than a year ago and now they somehow got to MSG!

We arrived at the venue pretty early and checked out the merch table and found our seats. Being poor college students, we couldn’t afford super expensive tickets, so we sat in section 208. I distinctly remember the section, because I did not end up there for the entire duration of the concert. A nice man who looked like Santa came into our row. Our first instincts were to get up and move so the man could get through to his seat. Instead, he sat next to us and started making small talk with my sister. Suddenly, I see the man pull out some ticket from the pocket of his suit jacket. These were not just any tickets…these were floor seats. The man then escorted us down a stairwell and through the VIP lounge, to our new seats. Now I REALLY couldn’t believe it. I was seeing one of my favorite bands at MSG and I was upgraded to VIP floor seats?! What are the odds?!

The opening act, Pale Waves, came out shortly after we got comfortable in our new seats. I had never seen them before or listened to their music. They did, however, give me serious 80s vibes. If you like bands such as The Cure and The Smiths, then this band is perfect for you! I attached a link to one of their songs below!

Next up, was The 1975. Everyone in the venue was waiting for the moment our favorite floppy-haired lead singer, Matty Healy, would come out with the rest of his band. Finally, the venue went dark and all that was heard were the screams of thousands of people attending the show.

The 1975 put on an amazing set with songs from both the “I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it” album and their self-titled album, “The 1975.” Fan favorites, including “Chocolate,” “Love Me,” and “Girls” were played, as well as my personal favorites, “Sex” and “A Change of Heart.” Other songs included beautifully melodic instrumental songs, which were also loved by the crowd. It felt to me as if we were all attending the modern-day equivalency of the symphony. Their instrumental songs were truly gorgeous and featured a different side of the band. The true beauty behind these songs, was that they held the ability to make the crowd feel something, through how each attendee visualized the song in their minds. Everyone was practically having a “ballad between themselves and their brains.”

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Another beautiful moment happened when the band broke out “Loving Someone.” The lighting display behind The 1975 was changed to a rainbow flag, showcasing the band’s long-standing support for equality for all. Everywhere you looked in the arena, were different colors reflecting off of everything inside the venue. It was like staring at oil spilled on the hot pavement, after it was cooled down from a summer’s rain. From every perspective, something new could be seen.

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The show was closed out by an arena on their feet. Everyone was dancing, singing, and jumping along, as requested by the lead singer, Matty. Now, it was time to file out of the arena, hop on the next train out of Penn Station, and reminisce on a night full of unforgettable memories with your best friends and a band you will always love.

Day 8: 30 Day Music Challenge

I honestly can’t believe it’s day 8 already… it feels like it shouldn’t be. Day 8 is a song you know all the words to. I know all the words to a lot of songs, because I have no life. Since I will be seeing Panic! at the Disco in a week, (insert Brendon Urie screaming gif) I am going to dedicate this one to P!ATD.

When I think of Panic!, I always think of the old stuff off “Pretty. Odd.” I also think of the ballad-like, Frank Sinatra crooning, and horn sections, featured on “Death of a Bachelor.” Pretty cool to see how much this artist has grown, and to be completely honest, I AM LIVING for the new sound. So, in honor of the Death of a Bachelor tour, I am going to go with “LA Devotee,” off the most recent album.

Give this catchy tune a listen: (PS- if you’re a fan of Stranger Things, you’ll really love the music vid!)

Days 6 & 7: 30 Day Music Challenge

Hey guys! I did not have a chance to post yesterday, because I’ve been super busy, so today will be a combination post.

The theme for day six is a song that reminds you of somewhere. For me, I’m going to throw it back a little bit here, and go with Bruce Springsteen’s classic, “Jersey Girl.” Being born and raised in Jersey, if you don’t grow up listening to Bruce, your parents probably weren’t born and raised here. His music is a right of passage.

This song just happens to remind me of where I come from. It makes me think about those Sunday nights in early summer, spent down at the Jersey shore, playing arcade games, riding rollercoasters, which were basically death traps, and eating pizza with my family. It also reminds me of those days just spent outside, barbecuing with family and friends as classic rock tunes, by some of Jersey’s finest played in the background. Lastly, I do have to add that this song sure does make me miss home! Take me back to Jersey!

Give it a listen:

 

Day 7: A song that reminds you of a certain event

Now this is the hardest one yet! My mind keeps taking me back to the many concerts I have been lucky enough to attend within my short 20 years on this planet! This past summer, I was lucky enough to see Coldplay, my favorite band live. Whenever I hear a Coldplay song, I am automatically transported back to the 7th grade. This was the year that “Viva La Vida” came out and my amazing orchestra teacher had us play it for our spring concert. It is honestly a moment and a song that I will never forget, because it is the song that made me fall in love with music. I actually still have all of the violin arrangements from this concert, even though it was nine years ago. After playing this song, I realized that I did not have to play the same old classical music on my violin. I could play whatever I wanted to! After this, I began trying to play whatever I heard on the radio on my violin. I would sit in my room for hours, jus trying to play a tune by ear. If it wasn’t for this inspiration and the incredible music teachers I was lucky enough to have in the public schools I attended, I would not be pursuing music today. (save the arts and the public schools yo)

This one goes out to you, Betsy DeVos:

Day 5: 30 Day Music Challenge

Well, we’ve made it to day 5! Today’s topic is a song that reminds you of someone.

A song that reminds me of someone, has got to be “Photograph” by Ed Sheeran. This song came out right when I graduated high school. I was fortunate enough to attend a special event with one of my best friends in NYC, about three weeks before graduation, where Ed played a few songs off his new album, before it was released. This is where I first heard “Photograph.” I remember looking at my friend and knowing exactly what was going on in their head. In only a short few weeks, we would be going our separate ways. I was going to school three hours away, my friend was staying back home. We knew everything was going to change. It was scary. We were moving on and realizing friendships and family would no longer be the same. Everything was changing around us, but there was no way to stop it. All we knew is that we had the memories we created with the ones we love, to carry with us forever.

A year later, I was back home from my first year away at college. My friends and I got together and headed to NYC on a 4:30 am train to see Ed Sheeran perform on Good Morning America. Once there, Ed played “Photograph.” It instantly put me back in time to where I was a year ago, thinking about how different things would become in just one short year. It turns out, things really weren’t that different. While the world changes around us, our love and memories of family and friends will always remain the same.

Give it a listen: