Alarms In The Heart

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Last week, I went to one of the best concerts of my life. As far as stage presence and sound quality go, I’m putting it in my personal Top 5, along with Neutral Milk Hotel (NOLA – Feb 2014), The Flaming Lips (NOLA – Oct 2009), Gogol Bordello (NOLA – Apr 2011), and Ben Folds (NOLA – Oct 2002). Garbage, Ween, No Doubt, Tears for Fears, and Mouse On Mars (at the Chelsea, in Vienna – talk about great acoustics) get honorable mention.

This new addition to my “holy shit, that concert blew my mind” is a band called Dry The River, out of London. I was introduced to them back in March, and fell in love within a few lines of the first song (if you’re interested, it’s called “No Rest”). So when I heard they were going to be playing in Chicago on the US leg of their tour, I immediately snagged a couple of tickets.

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The show was in a small venue called Schuba’s. They’re known for having intimate shows and great sound quality. Nothing about the space is too fancy – it’s just a solid little theater, perfect for getting to watch your favorite performers on stage. For certain songs, the sound was so on-point that it felt like standing inside of a record, somehow. I’m still impressed that I got to see what’s turning out to be my favorite band in such a tiny music club, because it feels like they’re going to get huge. So glad that this time I got to chat with them at the merch table after hearing/singing along to an incredibly emotional set.


Ever since the show, the title track off of their new album, “Alarms In The Heart,” keeps going through my mind. When I was stuck in the airport the next night – Halloween – for about 8 hours longer than I should have been, the song kept me from losing my mind completely. The lyrics in the chorus are particularly catchy:

“Half the town is underground,
and half are halfway there,
and we’re the only good ones left.

If there’s a tremor in earth, love
a ripple in the water,
come back to haunt you,
keeping you awake,
I heard it before now,
that we don’t listen very much,
to alarms in the heart, love.”

Give them a listen. They’ll haunt you (in a good way).

Weekly Photo Challenge: Let There Be Light

Third Eye Blind, 12/1/13 New Orleans

Though all of my friends started going to concerts when they were pretty young – 12 or 13 years old – I wasn’t allowed out of the house without adult supervision until I reached 16. It was a little longer before I finally managed to convince my mom that live music would not get me pregnant or make me a drug addict, so when the day came that I was allowed out to see my very first concert, you can only imagine how ecstatic I was! On June 6, 1999, I had just finished my senior year of high school, and since I guess my parents realized they couldn’t lock me up forever, I had my day in the sun at the Walnut Creek Amphitheater in Raleigh, NC, to the tunes of Third Eye Blind, Collective Soul & (my favorite of the three) Eve 6.

Luckily, I’ve built up my street cred with much cooler concerts in the years since. But when a friend of mine offered me a free ticket a couple of weeks ago to Third Eye Blind’s 20 Year Anniversary show at the House of Blues in New Orleans, I couldn’t say no. Sure, I felt like I was too old to go gaga over a pop rock band from the 90’s, but you’ve got to enjoy the nostalgia when you can. The concert was last night, and it was AMAZING. I know it’s probably hard to believe, but it was seriously good time, complete with a great light show, surprisingly coherent and tuneful live vocals, and plenty of feeling. By the end of the night, the crowd was seriously worked up – and I was making a mental note to buy their new album. This shot was taken last night during their rendition of “Never Let You Go.”

I Got The Bass For Your Face

mc chris!

mc chris!

The remix of mc chris’s Older Crowd by Optimiss (click through to listen) is one of my favorite songs, so I was glad when it happened to pop up in my playlist this morning on my walk to work. Today’s Daily Post prompt asks us to post the third line of the last song we heard today, but “These kids are such a disgrace” has a negative ring to it, and today’s been a good day so far. Plus, I remembered this morning that I forgot to tell you guys all about going to the mc chris show last week, so that’s what we’re going to do right now!

First, a little background, since lately it seems that no one I know has an idea of who mc chris is. mc, if you’re reading this, don’t be discouraged, it’s not you. I just don’t have a ton of truly nerdy friends.

mc chris is a nerdcore rapper that first popped up on my radar around 2002/2003. I was seeing this guy who was pretty much the first hipster I’d ever met, though back in those days, “hipster” meant something cool, not trite. Anyway, we spent a lot of time watching Adult Swim cartoons, including (of course) Aqua Teen Hunger Force. There was one episode in particular that made me die laughing every time. It had a giant evil spider who masqueraded as a tiny African American baby rapper who sang about candy. It doesn’t have to make sense, just go with it. Anyway, the rapper’s name was MC Pee Pants, and he was voiced by mc chris. I fell in love.

A short guy with a high-pitched voice that some might call annoying, mc chris raps about all kinds of geeky shit, like Star Wars and comic book heroes. In between songs he just talks about whatever’s on his mind. He’s one of those guys who’s just clever and makes people laugh during the course of a natural conversation, and for me, the in-between moments are the best part of the show.

His fans are the kind of people who cosplay, wear t-shirts with in-jokes about software coding, and spend their down time gaming or creating improved cuts of popular sci-fi films. There’s this incredible sense of community and geeky solidarity, and I’m always surprised at how easy it is to fall into an amazing conversation with kids I’ve never met before. For instance, during a break between sets I went downstairs with my friend so he could smoke a cigarette, and pretty much instantly got pulled into a conversation with two strangers about Ben Affleck in the new Batman film (the horror!).

I went to the show with my friend Wheels, a guy I met back in 2006 when we were both waiting tables at a local pizza place. We have the same birthday, and share a love of sci-fi films, Guinness, and mc chris. We try to spend our birthday together whenever we’re both in the same town, but I won’t be in New Orleans this year to celebrate. Luckily, this was a great way to party pre-birthday, and was actually our second mc chris concert together. We went to our first one back in 2006.


Wheels & Anna. Yes, we call ourselves “birthday buddies.” So what?

All in all, it was a great show. The opening acts, Jesse Dangerously and Dr. Awkward (and effing amazing!) got us pumped up for a night of geeky fun. Even though mc chris didn’t rap any of my favorite songs, he did rap everyone else’s faves, like Fett’s Vette and The Tussin. I had an awesome time hanging out with Wheels and his friend Doug, who works the door at House of Blues and luckily got off of his shift somewhere around the middle of the mc chris set.

Best of all, at the end of the show I got mc chris to sign my iPhone case, and had a second to chat with him about what’s going on in his life. It was pretty sweet, since last time I stood in line for his signature, I had nothing of relevance to say to him. Seven years down the line, though, and I had a little something to say. Not even fan crap, either (go me!). It was a nice moment of getting to connect with a regular dude who just happens to be my favorite nerdcore rapper. Before knowing that his fiance was the woman behind the merch table, I’d noticed her early on in the show looking up at the stage with this overwhelming glow of love/adoration in her eyes. It was beautiful. Later in the show, he pointed her out and mentioned their relationship, and I felt so happy for him, especially knowing what I’d seen. Since I was the very last person in line for an autograph, and the tiniest bit drunk, I took the time to tell him about it and wish them luck together. I’d like to think that I brought a moment of sincere happiness to them both at the end of what had been a very long day. Otherwise, I made them laugh about it later, and that’s still OK in my book 🙂

A Day Of Good Things!

Oooh, so many cool things going on today, I don’t know where to start!

Austin Wanderlust

First off, I bought my ticket to go to Wanderlust Austin over my birthday weekend. I’ll get to spend the entire weekend doing yoga, meditating, and even taking a trail run, along with eating healthy food and getting to jam out to great tunes. This will be the best birthday treat I’ve had in a long time! What’s even better, since I’ll be in Austin, I get to do yoga during the day then hang out with my amazing friend Trinity at night. Plus, I sent word to my cousin Amy to see if she might be able to make it. If she could, that would be a crazy good weekend!


Secondly, I bought tickets to see mc chris next Thursday night! I’m super excited about that one, since I’ve somehow managed to miss every show he’s had in whatever city I was in over the last few years. If you don’t know who I’m talking about, don’t feel too bad. He’s a nerdcore rapper, comedian and voice actor with a pretty loyal following, but hasn’t really hit “mainstream” yet. I hope he never does, because he’s amazing. I first heard him rapping in Aqua Teen Hunger Force, then started really listening to the lyrics of his songs and fell in love – so many geeky references! His voice is really high, something that turns some people off, but it’s also one of the most interesting things about his sound. Anyway, I’m pretty psyched.

And then, after months of (ha) hemming and hawing, I bit the bullet and signed up with Stitch Fix. It’s probably a bad idea, but we’ll see. Basically, Stitch Fix is a personal styling service that takes your measurements and style preferences, then sends you a box of five hand-picked items of clothing, jewelry and/or accessories that you might like. You can try them on at home, then either buy the ones you like or send them all back. I kept seeing bloggers writing about their Stitch Fix packages, and since I have such trouble breaking out of the box, fashion-wise, it seemed like a fun thing to try. It’s not a subscription service or anything, so there’s no contract or commitment, other than the $20 you pay to have them send you a box (which can go towards any of the items in the box). So we’ll see. Have any of you guys tried Stitch Fix before?