Early morning December 6, 2009 is a day many Weezer fans won’t soon forget.
A bus crash landed singer/guitarist Rivers Cuomo in the hospital with internal injuries, cracked ribs and a leg injury thus canceling the remaining dates of their tour.
An online contest, The Motorola Cliq Challenge, was being held before the accident to get the band to play at a university, and my alma mater Florida State won by a landslide. We were worried that we wouldn’t get the show because of the crash, but after getting “cautionary clean bill of health” as stated on their MySpace page, they did manage to come to Tallahassee on January 20 and give an amazing performance.
The show started with T-Moble listing winners of a new phone and presenting a check for $10,208 to the school’s student body president, which was followed by The Marching Chiefs taking the stage. The concert was hit after hit, playing all of their best known songs and throwing in a few covers (“Time” by Pink Floyd and “Kids” by MGMT) and a few new songs from their album including their next single.
My friends and I managed to get floor access to the show, which was great except for when we had crowd surfers almost fall on us countless times. Rivers was in high spirits and running all over the stage. He even said how great he was feeling because of the energy in the room from the packed Civic Center. He told us about his injuries but made it very clear that he was ready to be back on stage. We also got some really cool surprises, including Hayley Williams of Paramore singing on “Say It Ain’t So” and Jermaine Dupri on the song they collaborated on, “Can’t Stop Partying.” There were even VIP passes that were won by signing up in the Union during Market Wednesday.
The ending of the show was by far the best part, for me at least. They finished with my favorite Weezer song, “Buddy Holly” and broke out into a drum solo to which the entire audience started the Warchant. (The thing we “sing” when we do “The Chop.”) We must have broken out into the Warchant at least 3 or 4 times during the concert, usually prompted by a guitar solo between songs or something similar. It really was an incredible night and an amazing show for Rivers Cuomo to get back out on stage for.
For full updates from the show, check my twitter: www.twitter.com/musicalninja
By Kat Koser
Dance music is the only genre that will mirror the flavor of every other popular genre. So, in addition to the usual fare of club samples, dance tunes this year reflected general tastes by using rap, indie rock, laidback island rhythms, and powerhouse female singers. Overall, it was a great year in dance music, with several new artists on the scene shaping where the genre will be heading in 2010.
1-”Say Yeah” by Yves Larock ft. Jaba
Yves Larock crafted another perfect summer song. It’s upbeat, happy, and catchy. The tune evokes an addicting tropical call for peace and good feeling. So grab a pina colada and turn it up.
2- “Leave the World Behind” by Angello, Ingrosso, Axwell, and Laidback Luke
This is another upbeat tune, but different in its style. It’s made more for the dance floor than the booming stereo of a convertible. In other words, it’s a serious dance beat, but with optimistic lyrics. Be prepared for awesome techno interludes.
3- “Down” by Jay Sean ft. Lil Wayne
If you were around in the summer, you might have heard this song quite a bit. It’s a happy rap song that is danceable and not too overtly dirty in language. Special mention goes to Lil Wayne for his timely lyric, to get “down like the economy.”
4- “Sweet Disposition (Axwell and Dirty South Remix)” by Temper Trap
This Temper Trap song was featured in the indie romance film, “500 Days of Summer.” It was really cute in it, and caught on a bit. But Axwell and Dirty South managed to transform this indie song into techno gold. It’s fascinating to see songs from such different genres turned into great dance music, so kudos to all those involved in this one.
5- “Hot (Play & Win Remix)” by Inna
When picking new dance names to watch based on success in 2009, Inna would definitely be at the top. This was an infectious dance anthem, followed up by “Amazing” (also a Play & Win Remix). She’s part of the ‘Russian Invasion,’ as more and more dance names cross over to mainstream from that region- such as Fashion Beat Sound and Rudenko’s “Everybody (Morjac Remix).” Goes to show that anyone looking for future hits should not forget to check up on the Russian dance scene in 2010.
6- “When Love Takes Over” by David Guetta ft. Kelly Rowland
Only a certain president of Iran could possibly deny the French a special talent on the turntables. From Sinclar to Daft Punk to Justice to the lesser known TEPR, their sly sound has managed to win over fans “Around the World.” But this year marked a change- Guetta set out to make a ’sound bridge’ between hip hop and dance music. The result has been both magnificent and profitable. It started with Kelly Rowland’s early anthem, “When Love Takes Over.” Next came the Black Eyed Pea’s hit- “I Gotta Feeling,” which Guetta produced (and put a good remix on his album, although the best remix award definitely goes to Laidback Luke). Then he steamrolled ahead with Akon’s hot “Sexy Chick.” I also admire Kid Cudi’s “Memories,” and Rowland’s other bouncy track, “It’s the Way You Love Me.” Then close up the bunch with the island peace song, “One Love,” featuring Estelle. There are a few other songs, as well, but I think all these are the gems. For one album to have that many puts it into the Eternal Glory category, like Daft Punk’s album, ‘Discovery,’ which carried just as many hits. The big question is, what could Guetta (rated #2 DJ in the world) possibly do after a year like this?
7- “Let Me Be Real” by Fedde Le Grand
While he is most famous for “Put Your Hands Up for Detroit,” his lesser known tracks with Ida Corr, particularly “Let Me Think About It” are arguably better. Yet those were a few years ago. With this new track, Fedde Le Grand has broken through to the realm of repeated success. I look forward to hearing more from him in the future.
8- “Ghosts N Stuff” by Deadmau5
Deadmau5 has a solid following already, but his talent really shines in this track. It’s a gothic kind of dance song, and the strange merging of style shows Deadmau5 is one DJ to watch in 2010. “The Longest Road” featuring Lissie was another Grammy-nominated hit of his that also seemingly merged genres by mixing country with dance. With more of his success, his fans may finally admit that liking Deadmau5 does not guarantee you ‘underground’ status, anymore- just good taste.
9- “Pokerface” by Lady Gaga
This song was the epitome of many dance parties this past year, like “Just Dance” was the year before, and “Bad Romance” seems to be for this year. Lady Gaga has become a pop princess by continuing to bring out the dance hits. I appreciate the attention she brings to danceable music, but her songs really are made up of more pop than anything else.
10- “Day N Night (Crookers Remix)” by Kid Cudi
Don’t deny it- you love this song. While you have definitely heard it too many times, it’s still a great song. You can dance to it, sing to it, rap to it, and head-nod to it. Yet it’s techno. Thanks, 2009, for making techno and dance music a little more mainstream and appreciated.
“Blue,” “Not Alone,” and “The Rain” by Calvin Harris
“Drown in the Now” by The Crystal Method, ft. Matisyahu
“Free (Bimbo Jones Remix)” by Livvi Franc
“Watch the Sun Come Up,” “Won’t Go Quietly” by Example
“Fire Burning” by Sean Kingston
“Smash into You (L’amor L’morgue Remix)” by Beyonce
“She Came Along” by Sharam ft. Kid Cudi
“This is How it Goes (Kaskade’s Grand Club Edit)” by Haley
by Kelly Grenfell
I know almost all the words to Akon and Kardinal Offishall’s “Dangerous” song, a majority of the dance moves to Miley Cyrus’ “Hoedown Throwdown,” and am even willing to give Leighton Meester a chance with her latest hit“Somebody to Love.” I’m eclectic. And I prefer to ignore my peers’ opinions when it comes to my musical taste.
But how do I justify my latest downloads when the artists are making negative tabloid headlines? In other words, should I care when my musical taste becomes a moral dilemma for worldly debate?
Two artists who frequent my Top 25 Most Played playlist include Chris Brown and Michael Jackson, whose private lives seem to be far from clandestine lately.
I remember I was a sophomore in college when Chris Brown’s “Run It” was topping charts and permeating the airwaves. The first, in a long line of singles released by the youth of yesterday, Brown’s vocal chords are incredible, and I’ll “forever” unite his lyrics with memories from my undergraduate days.
As for the King of Pop, I was in my high school dance class when I was first introduced to his musical talent in “Beat It.” However, it didn’t take long before I was the proud owner of his History: Past, Present, and Future album, and was taping every TV documentary on his life and family. I was obsessed, and continue to be because I believe his work remains untouchable.
But what about the legacy of Jackson’s personal life? Or what of Brown’s anger management issues and recent assault charges? Even after the numerous charitable donations, and hospital visitations, there still remains disturbing allegations. If these two performers were regular Joes, their behavior would hardly be dismissed once brought before the media spotlight. Scrutinized, criticized, and possibly even ruined in reputation; their lives would be the perfect demonstration of the “one bad decision” scale all too well.
But what about our beloved musical artists? Surely the “one bad decision” scale would outweigh their charisma as well? History would seem to show this just isn’t the case, and I am one of the fans guilty of making it a double standard.
As a consumer we compartmentalize. We have to in order to feel comfortable purchasing albums in public. It’s an unfortunate twist on the forgive and forget mentality. But then again, maybe our reasoning isn’t completely without merit. Maybe we’re too hard on the regular Joes of society, and should be giving them an opportunity for redemption like the musical talents we call inspiring. After all, we’re all human.
Perhaps its because artists are in the spotlight more, that the world expects them to be upholding a better demonstration of dignity already. Perhaps the double standard in their flawed decisions is in part created by the double standard we demand of their everyday actions to begin with. Perhaps in the end, we are more to blame then we realize for the vicious cycle of injustice we call reality.
Although personally my musical purchases will continue to remain separated from the media’s search for sensational headlines, I believe the moral question remains and needs to be resolved by individuals on a case-by-case basis. We should care about what we are listening to, because it speaks volumes about our character. Choose your downloads wisely, and remember your role and responsibility as a consumer.
Suddenly things clicked. That’s how rising singer/songwriter, Lena Stein described the first time she switched from playing electric guitar to acoustic. And now around a year later, Lena has been rocking it out on her beloved guitar she fondly calls Toby.
A 16-year-old junior at Concord Academy, a small private high school is Massachusetts, Lena writes her songs from the heart, basing her lyrics on events and situations that personally have effected her, not just as an artist, but as an individual. Currently a local performer who lives for open mic nights and talent shows, not only is this young talent constantly pursuing a means to share her music with the world, but she also believes in the power of following her dreams.
REALITY Check Girl Magazine’s editor-in-chief, Nikki Roberti, had the opportunity to interview Lena as she described her love for and active interest in performing her original music.
REALITYCHECKGIRL: When did you first start your music career? What inspired you?
LENA STEIN: I’ve been singing and performing and loving music my whole life, but I’d say I started getting really serious about it the beginning of sophomore year. I’d been playing electric guitar for a couple years and it just wasn’t the right fit for me. My guitar teacher recommended I switch to acoustic, so my parents got me an acoustic guitar and suddenly things clicked. I actually started practicing. I started by learning every single Taylor Swift song. And within months I was good enough to start performing. I’d been writing songs for years, but for the first time I could sit down and write the music too, which really opened so many doors for me.
RCG: Do you write your own songs? Where do you get your inspiration?
LS: I write all of my own songs, and all of them are about my life. The best material is stuff that I’ve gone through or am going through, because that’s what I know best and can explain the best. I write my songs pretty randomly, actually: I’ll go for a month without writing anything and then something will just spark and I’ll write three or four songs in a week. I don’t really believe in setting aside time to write, or sitting down and saying, “I’m going to write a song now” because usually that material comes out sounding forced.
RCG: Why do you enjoy creating music? What is your goal and what is the driving force behind your ambition?
LS: Part of what I love about writing songs and singing and performing is being able to work things out in my head. If there’s something bothering me or upsetting me and I can’t figure it out or can’t figure out how to deal with it, sometimes the process of writing about it helps me sort things out. Another thing about writing is how honest you get to be. So often people keep how they feel bottled up inside, but writing lets me be open and honest with myself. I recently went through a break-up and wrote a song about how I’m so not over that guy. I could never say it to his face, but I still get to let it out and be honest in a song.
RCG: What are your plans for further pursuit of your education?
LS: No matter where my music takes me, I definitely plan on going to college.
RCG: What is it like before you get on stage?
LS: I’ve only had stage fright once. It was before my first real performance at my school talent show and I was basically freaking out in my seat, thinking everyone wouldn’t like it, or that I would mess up horribly. But after I got off the stage I just had the biggest rush in the world, and I couldn’t wait to perform again. Since then, I’ve always been pumped before I get up to perform. I think part of that comes from having so many new songs to share, and being eager to put each new song out there as soon as it’s ready.
RCG: What is the most important thing to you? What gets you through the day?
LS: My family and my best friends are the world to me and they get me through everything. I’m really close with both of my parents, and I always have them to come to about anything, from boys to school to drama with friends. Ultimately, music is what gets me through the day. By junior year, everything is go, go, go! And sometimes it’s hard to see past the paper due next week. But for me, I’ve always had music and my long-term goals to look forward to. I have to admit I’m a bit of a day dreamer and I whenever I’m spacing out, I’m thinking about songs I want to write or shows I want to play or recordings I want to make. It helps me not get too sucked into high school drama.
RCG: What is your favorite song you’ve written? Why?
LS: Well probably my all-time favorite to date is “Something Makes Me Stay” because it got my through one of the hardest break-ups I’ve experienced. I just felt like in three and a half minutes I summed up everything that was left of the situation. But right now I’m really enjoying my newest song, “Soon” because it’s about a break-up I went through recently. I see him in the halls and all over school and I just hum it to myself and it reminds me to play it cool and just rise above the situation.
RCG: What are you currently doing to further your musical career?
LS: I’m just playing locally when I can trying to get my music heard. The internet has been a great resource for spreading the word. My next step is making a website, which will be up in January ’10. Also, I’m working with a local producer/music named Casey Barth, I’ll be putting together my demo with him this year.
RCG: How would you describe yourself? What makes you unique?
LS: I think what makes me unique is that I always know that no matter how terrible things seem, I have the capacity to be completely, honestly happy. I can laugh so hard I cry and I can cry so hard I laugh and both of those things have let me open myself up to other people and to music and to life. In music, there is nothing more important than being honest, and just telling your story. I love telling my story and putting myself out there to see if anyone else can relate.
Suddenly things clicked. That’s how rising singer/songwriter, Lena Stein described the first time she switched from playing electric guitar to acoustic. And now around a year later, Lena has been rocking it out on her beloved guitar she fondly calls Toby.
As a 16-year-old junior at Concord Academy, a small private high school is Massachusetts, Lena writes her songs from the heart, basing her lyrics on events and situations that personally have effected her, not just as an artist, but as an individual.
“If there’s something bothering me or upsetting me and I can’t figure it out or can’t figure out how to deal with it, sometimes the process of writing about it helps me sort things out,” Lena said. “So often people keep how they feel bottled up inside, but writing lets me be open and honest with myself.”
She said she has been singing and performing her entire life, but it wasn’t until her switch to acoustic guitar that Lena started really writing and pursuing her talent as a singer/ songwriter. The way she started playing was by learning every Taylor Swift song.
And similar to how Taylor Swift writes about specific people and situations, especially about boys who’ve broken her heart, Lena uses her music to not only express her emotions about situations, but also as a means to cope.
“Right now I’m really enjoying my newest song ‘Soon’ because it’s about a break-up I went through recently,” Lena said. “I see him in the halls and all over school and I just hum it to myself and it reminds me to play it cool and just rise above the situation.”
Currently a local performer who lives for open mic nights and talent shows, not only is this young talent constantly pursuing a means to share her music with the world, but she also believes in the power of following her dreams.
Lena’s music is what get’s her through the day, however she does find the support of her friends and parents to be a strong encouragement through everything in her life. Amidst all the papers and homework due dates like every high school junior experiences, Lena said focusing on her music is what helps her endure what she describes as the “go, go, go!” pace of high school.
“I have to admit, I’m a bit of a day dreamer and I whenever I’m spacing out, I’m thinking about songs I want to write or shows I want to play or recordings I want to make,” she said. “It helps me not get too sucked into high school drama.”
Although her main hope and focus for her future is in her music career, Lena said she understands and appreciates the value of education.
“No matter where my music takes me, I definitely plan on going to college,” she said.
Lena is currently working with local producer Casey Barth in the recording process for her first demo this year. Fans can also look forward to the launch of Lena’s Web site in January 2010.
“In music, there is nothing more important than being honest, and just telling your story,” Lena said. “I love telling my story and putting myself out there to see if anyone else can relate.”
Click the links below for videos of Lena performing!
Even with the summer months behind, you can still experience those carefree days through Nighttiming.
Coconut Records’ debut album, which was released in 2007, is composed of 12 poppy yet mellow tracks. The band is a side project of actor and former Phantom Planet drummer Jason Schwartzman.
Known for his performances in Wes Anderson films such as Rushmore and The Darjeeling Limited, Schwartzman chose to turn his focus to music. Formed in 2006, this is Schwartzman’s second musical effort and is extremely influenced by his California upbringing.
Easily one of the most heartfelt songs on the album is “West Coast.” An ode to coming home, Schwartzman sings, “And I miss you, I’m going back home to the west coast. I wish you would put yourself in my suitcase. I love you, standing all alone in a black coat.”
Another standout track is the album’s title track, the rhythmic “Nightttiming.” The most upbeat song in the collection, “Nighttiming” is a perky request to the girl he likes to settle down and finally commit to a relationship with him.
In contrast to the jam-worthy “Nighttiming” is the languid “Summer Day.” Although very simple, it encompasses the feeling of a peaceful day lying in the sun.
Another mellow track is the ballad “Easy Girl,” in which Schwartzman croons about a girl who is impossibly easy to love, and with whom he wants to grow old, “An easy girl to love, an easy girl to kiss, an easy girl to miss when you’re gone.” The piano provides a happy-go-lucky mood that encompasses the theme of the album.
One interesting aspect of this album is the guest vocalist Schwartzman recruited. Actresses Zooey Deschanel and Kirsten Dunst are featured on numerous tracks, lending an airy soprano to Schwartzman’s deeper vocals. Also dueting with Schwartzman on one track is his younger brother and lead singer of the band Rooney, Robert Schwartzman, as well as with Incubus’ Brandon Boyd.
One theme repeated throughout the course of the album is Schwartzman’s affectionate requests to a mystery love. Like “West Coast,” the track “Back to You” is a promise to an unspecified love that he will return to her, eventually, “I will wait, as long as it, will take me to, get back to you.”
Another reoccurring theme woven into the tracks is Schwartzman’s need to return home. This is exemplified in his “Minding My Own Business.” In this song Schwartzman once again talks to his mysterious love, telling her, “So you gotta get me home, and get me on my feet again, love. Cause I’m minding my own business for a change.” The catchy rhythm promises to have you tapping your toes to the beat.
No matter what time of year it is, Coconut Records will instill in your ears the sounds of summer. The soft melodies and Schwartzman’s soothing voice promise to keep your spirit warm all year round, and fan who enjoy this album can look for the band’s sophomore release Davy, which hit stores in January 2009.
by Meagan Renée
Around noon, most people will be getting ready for their lunch break and counting the hours till they can leave work, but for Crystal Lee, 24, her day is just starting. She spends her nights at concerts or working on some of the different projects she has going on in LA or Las Vegas mostly. Her main focus is CashDolla Industries, a website she created about three years ago that features her interviews and photography with different bands.
“The idea came from me just wanting to bring music to kids and promotion.” Lee says. “I really wanted to get more involved in the music scene. I had a lot of friends in the industry and had a great base to start off at. It started off as a fun side hobby to do, then turned into part of my job.”
Along with CashDolla Industries, Lee is also honing in on her graphic design skills with band myspace layouts and flyers and plans on going to college to learn some more techniques and for music management. She is currently managing the Las Vegas band, Away We Go!.
“With Away We Go! I was close friends with them and started doing a lot to help them. I got really into it and the band made the decision they wanted me to manage them. I love it.”
Another project Lee is involved with is graphic designing for The Lollipops & Rainbow Foundation. This is a foundation dedicated to four different organizations (from children’s education to animal rescue) and shows the forward thinking of the eight year old founder’s belief that anyone can make a difference.
Lee uses these different events and her many opportunities as a way to network and feels that networking is something everyone should learn to do to help further their careers.
“The more connections you have the better off you will be. But be careful you don’t end up using people [and] always check to make sure the connection is legit. Acquiring new connections can be easy, just go to a lot of events and become a social butterfly. Never be afraid to talk to someone.”
Despite what sounds like having a dream job, Lee has had her own share of trying times. As a result from a car accident at the age of sixteen, Lee has been confined to a wheelchair as a quadriplegic.
“I have no movement in my legs; I can move my arms but not my fingers. I’m happier now then I was when walking. I don’t let it get in my way. I can do more than people think.” Lee says. She plans on releasing a book about her life “on my depression, being in a wheelchair in a fast paste life style, and it will be full of my thoughts, poems, unfinished songs, and stories.”
Lee feels that she truly hasn’t had any obstacles, except for the occasional “trash talking”, but believes that she can get through anything placed in her way. “I never let that get to me. I laugh at it. Always remember who you are and what you are there to do.”
Lee contributes most of her success and good fortune to her family and friends in bands, but also sites a well known acquaintance of hers.
“I can’t forget to mention Pete Wentz [of Fall Out Boy], he got me out of a huge depression. The day I met him, I decided to get out of it and start having fun, and get more into the music scene. All of that gave me the drive.”
Although she’s interviewed some of the most popular acts in music today and is friends with most of them after the fact, she still acknowledges that she still gets nervous or even star-struck.
“One time I interviewed Paramore in May 2006. It was my first time meeting them, and was a last minute interview. I did everything off the top of my head. It went well though.” Lee says that the nervousness is one of the few undesirable things about her job. “Once I’m passed the first question I’m good. Graphic designing is hard to juggle between my press and managing. There’s always a deadline. I’m usually okay at getting it done though.”
She has done many different interviews in different settings, but says that some that really stick out in her memories are from the Vans Warped Tour.
“Warped Tour press is always fun, because of the variety.” She laughs, “There was one in 2006 where I was interviewing Gym Class Heroes and Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy jumped in and sat on Travis McCoy’s (GCH Vocalist) lap and took over the interview. Oh and when I interviewed Gabe Saporta of Cobra Starship. He’s a character.”
There are still more acts Lee would love to interview including Disney sensations Miley Cyrus and The Jonas Brothers. She states that she thinks they’re more talented than given credit for and more than just “tween magazine cover stars.”
“They are true musicians and song writers / performers, not the typical industry puppets on a string boy group, they’re a band.” She says of The Jonas Brothers.
Overall, there have been more highs than lows for Crystal Lee. She really loves what she’s doing and it’s made even better by the fact that it all stemmed from her own ideas and striving to do her own projects. She has had a lot of girls tell her how she’s an inspiration for her, and she likes being someone they can look up to.
“I think it’s cool, and love that I did something to affect their life in a positive way. I don’t see myself as [a role model] though, but it’s definitely cool.”
Crystal “CashDolla” Lee’s optimism and drive have helped her succeed in following her dreams and making them a reality. Despite some past hardships, her motivation helps her overcome any barrier that gets put in her path.
“Never let anything get in the way or your dreams, job, or life. Life is an empty book and it’s up to you to fill the pages. Only really trust about as many people you can count on one hand. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes.”
* All Photos courtesy/property of Crystal Lee/CashDolla Ind.
By Joy Smith
Five concerts. Four friends. Three trips. Two maxed out credit cards. One amazing summer.
Once a semester ends and the break for summer begins, my brain goes into autopilot, not having a desire to do anything but veg. However, this summer was not about working thirty hours a week at a fast food chain just to earn money for clothes and makeup (and shampoo and jewelry and movies, you get the point.) This summer was about surviving off of pop-tarts and Easy Mac, filling up my gas tank all along the east coast, and living the dream: following a band as they went on tour.
When I say “groupie”, I mean I am a literal definition groupie (“a young person who is an ardent admirer of rock musicians and may follow them on tour”), not in the peace, love, and freedom, Woodstock groupies. This entire summer started with a simple impromptu trip to Dallas to visit a friend and catch a band that we both liked, ended with emptying my bank account, packing a small suitcase, and travelling around the country. Following a band is a very precarious situation. On the one hand, you want them to know of your undying love and adoration, and your memorization of every song they have ever sung, but you definitely do not want to be known as the creepy, stalker girl who sleeps in a band t-shirt every night, even if the latter is true.
The first show in Dallas was mind-blowing. 100 Monkeys was everything I hoped they would be and more. They are so comfortable onstage and put on an amazing show. The monkeys, including Ben Johnson, Ben Graupner, Jerad Anderson, and Jackson Rathbone, engage the audience and pull you into their musical world filled with guitars, drums, tambourines, shakers, and the infamous trumpet. Though technically classified in the “rock” genre, the band does not limit itself to the head-banging ballads. Halfway through a song, the bass guitarist and keyboardist will switch places. After that, the guy on the drums will take a go at the trumpet, while another member pounds away on the mini xylophone. All four of the Monkeys are extremely talented musicians that play all of the instruments on the stage, as well as sing. Most of their songs are a funky, unique combination of instruments that leave the listener either swaying along with the beat or simply letting the music wash over him.
The crowd-pleaser really comes when the audience shouts ideas to the band, and then Jackson serenades us with an impromptu song. This time around, Jackson sings for a good five minutes about handcuffs. This boot-wearing, toe-tapping cowboy, who also starred in the hit movie, Twilight, seems to have won the heart of many of the younger girls in attendance.
Though the band is developing a cult-like following among Twi-fans and people who generally appreciate great music, they still seemed stunned by their success and the attention showered on them. Their performance was at a small art gallery in the heart of the downtown Dallas area, and the venue was packed from the stage all the way to the entrance in the back. The set was short, but well worth the two hour car-ride from my friend’s house to the show. As the 100 Monkeys come out afterwards, they appear to be ecstatic to see dozens of people waiting to get their autographs. All of the guys are very gracious, signing every piece of paper that was thrust into their hands by overanxious fans, myself included.
Even after we left the art gallery, it felt as if my system was in shock. I would go through periods of giggling and conversely sitting in silence, replaying the evening in my head. The concert was amazing. There was fabulous music, front-row view, and an excellent crowd.
After you watch the monkeys jamming out onstage, you only have two options: pledge all of your time, effort, and money to go see them again, or break their CD and tell all of your friends how weird it was. As we drove back from Dallas the following day, all of my focus was on how I could possibly get to see these beautiful monkey men again.
Two weeks later, my best friends called, informing me that we were going on another road trip to see the band in back-to-back concerts. With shows in New York and Pennsylvania, we would need to drive all the way up the east coast. Three of us overloaded a small rental car and hopped in to begin our journey. Twelve hours, two tanks of gas, and four bathroom breaks later we arrived in PA, exhausted and excited. We woke up the next day, and drove to our new hotel, with is just enough time to run through the shower, throw on some makeup, and go stand in line for the concert.
At the show, Young and Divine, a local band in the Clifton Park, NY area, opened for the night and set quite a high bar. I was surprised how much I enjoyed their pop-like, boy band sound. Then the Monkeys came out and that is where all of the magic happened. Their set, after the four opening acts, lasted just over an hour. There were some new songs and some old favorites, as well as the traditional impromptu. After the great concert, we fell into bed, only to relive the day’s events again when we woke up.
Round two was just as invigorating, though slightly more exhausting. The AC is broken, or maybe it’s just the hundreds of bodies being crammed together in such a small space, but before the first act, a really talented guy named Ivan Swangren, can even make it off the stage, everyone is hot and uncomfortable. After waiting through two more bands, The National Rifle (TNR) takes charge of the situation. TNR does puts on a great set, overflowing with energy, and it does the trick. By the end of their hour, we are all pumped and ready for 100 Monkeys to come on out, our fatigue all but forgotten. After forty-five minutes, the band had played their last song and exited the stage.
On the nine-hour ride home, we listened to the Monkey’s CD on repeat, the entire time. It took one concert to get me hooked, but after three, I was obsessive. For the next several weeks I was buried in work and studies, but made time to read the daily updates on their tour schedule and such, interacting with other “monkey junkies” on their forum.
A few weeks later, the Monkeys announced a new CD release party in Dallas three weeks from then. At this CD release, you would receive a free copy of the new album, Creative Control Live Sessions, as well as entrance to the concert! After a run to the mall, we head off to Dallas for round three! The release was a combined with a huge concert that ended up being a rave. Between the fans and the bands, there was a palpable energy coursing through the air.
After the show, we had just enough time to rush over to where a VIP dinner was being held. At this point, everyone is a little sweaty, a little achy, and more than a little ready to meet to the band. All of the monkeys were very gracious and patient as throngs of women surrounded them, begging them for autographs or pictures, all while shoveling down a few bites of delicious food. The band made the evening even more memorable by performing a private concert. All of the guys were very relaxed and comfortable on stage, jamming out for an additional hour. Obviously exhausted, the Monkeys played their last notes around one o’clock in the morning. Still, they took pictures with fans and signed autographs until everyone who had come was happy to leave.
The next day, 100 Monkeys had a CD signing at the Barnes and Noble in Dallas. After slowly walking through the line, trying to absorb everything I could, I came away quite impressed. All four guys are very personable, humble, and incredibly nice. They signed my CD, we took a picture, and even chatted for a few minutes. My star-shock was held at bay until I could make it down the stairs after the meeting, but I must admit I’m still a little shaky. I thought meeting them would make them more personal and real, and less idolized in my mind. It turned out being quite the opposite experience—meeting the band only further endeared them to me.
So now as my summer of travelling and concerts comes to a close, I can’t help but feel thankful, even as I look up more concert dates for the fall.
For more pictures of her groupie adventures, click here!
Youthfulness Editor, Meagan Renee, represented Reality Check Girl Magazine at Warped Tour 2009 and interviewed designer Jac Vanek and bands Versaemerge, All Time Low!, and The Maine. Here are some video clips so you can feel like you were there!
Want even more? Check out Meagan’s pictures of the event and all her adventures at our flickr account! Photos by Meagan and Ginny Leavy.