Saturday, February 1, 2014

Lolla Saturday

I started Day Two with one of Austin’s best, the Wheeler Brothers.  I love these guys, and it’s unfortunate they got such an early timeslot.  

But, due to my crazy work schedule and newly developing social life, I’m used to going to bed at 9:30pm and waking up at 7:00am.  So getting to the park by noon was a nonissue.  After a great show, and a free koozie, I set out for a very busy day of walking back and forth around the park.  Friday’s recap was extremely detailed, so I’ll make this one much shorter.

Shovels & Rope – I heard most of their set, walking from Wheeler Bros, and back for Little Green Cars.

Pujol – eh, didn’t love.

Planet Hemp – not a fan at all.

Little Green Cars – Unfortunately, the main female singer lost her voice, so this might have been a really bad example of what they typically sound like.  I watched most of their set from a seated spot on the hillside (so pleasant) and caught a few songs front and center.

Ben Howard – so great.  I managed to get fairly close, and should have stayed for the whole thing, as the few songs I heard were really great.

Family of the Year – There was scheduling issue on The Grove stage, as I thought I’d be hearing St. Lucia when I got over there.  And was a little sad, as I should have stayed at Ben Howard.  Regardless, Family of the Year was incredibly gracious to the crowd, and they also sounded pretty good.  They sing the song, “Hero,” which is getting some radio play in Austin.

Charles Bradley- I wandered over to grab a beer and heard some of Charles Bradley from afar.

St. Lucia – I returned to the Grove stage to catch St. Lucia, which did not dissapoint.  Interestingly, they sounded a bit like Matt & Kim, which I left to go see.  However, the Matt & Kim crowd was ridiculous, and I could hardly hear.  So… I tried to go back to St. Lucia, but they were already finished.  Biggest fail of the day, by far.

Annoyed that I messed things up, I hurried to the other end of the park to salvage the remainder of the 3:00 hour.  I’ve seen Local Natives before, and enjoyed them a lot this time as well.

The Dunwellls were one of the bands I had wanted to catch at ACL last year, but they played at too early of a time for my group to get there.  I’m glad I saw them this time, on a stage that wasn’t very crowded and in the shade.

Ellie Goulding – Ericka recommended, “lights” to me for the 2012 NYE video, so since then I’ve associated Ellie with her. Also since then, she has released a few similarly fun pop songs, so I wanted to catch her live.  She was great!  I was waaay in the back, and it was still a solid dance party.  Thanks Ericka, Ellie’s show was one of my festival favs.

Foals – I couldn’t remember why I had bookmarked Foals, and made my way closer to the front to hear/see them.  It was pretty chill, and nothing special, so I caught a few songs and headed south to get up close for The Lumineers.

Missing the Lumineers show at ACL 2012 was one of my biggest fails EVER, so even though I don’t like them as much now as I did then, I wanted to make up for that failure.  Arriving what I thought was 15 minutes early, I started txted Jaime as to feel less alone.  Then realizing I was one hour and 15 minutes early, I took a seat with the few other die-hard fans, and made festival friends.  We chatted for the next 45 minutes, then had to stand our ground to prevent all the “push oursvles to the front" type of people.  This may be a good time to bring up another one of the biggest pro-Lolla points yet, they don’t allow chairs.  At first I thought this was a sad idea, until I realized that without chairs,  so many more people can get up close.  There are still plenty of sitters (blankets!) but without chairs it doesn’t create as big of a bottleneck.  The chairline always seemed to cause so many traffic problems, so without it, more people can stand at an appropriate distance to still see the front.

 The Lumineers show was well worth the wait.  They are so happy!  What was a little ridiculous, at one point, two of the guys walked through the crowd to play two songs from a new perspective.   The main singer sat on top of a chair just behind me, and the accordion player stood on top of the sound booth.

Mumford & Sons – I just saw Mumford at The Circuit of the Americas, so I wasn’t in dire need to see them again.  However, I was pretty thankful that I got to see them twice, while much of the US missed their concert.

I left MAS a bit early, and caught a tiny amount of The Postal Service as I made my 10 minute trek home.

Lolla Friday

One of the first bands I wanted to see was Robert DeLong, however his set was at 12:30pm on Friday, and I knew I wouldn't be ready to leave the office that early.  But, I packed my backpack and planned to walk right from work to the fest, as soon as I could.  That time ended up being about 2pm.

The security was a little tougher than ACL, but not nearly as tight as The Gorge. The first band I wanted to see was Band of Horses at 4:15pm, so I had some time to walk around and get oriented to the sheer space of Grant Park.  I might be wrong, but it seems like lolla is a lot bigger, both in terms of space, and people attending.  Grant Park is way different than Zilker.  Rather than being a huge green space, Grant has streets and mini-parks within it.  For the most part, the festival layout prevents it from feeling as crowded as ACL or creating as many bottlenecks of traffic.  I definitely appreciated this, as I did a lot of wandering on Friday.

I entered the fest on the north side, so caught part of Ghost BC’s set as I got oriented to the park.  Ghost BC is a metal band.  They sounded great, and were hilarious to watch but metal’s not my thing.  Once I made it all the way south, I caught most of the Smith Westerns.  They are originally from to Chicago, and it was funny that they accidentally did a shout-out to Coachella.  They sounded alright- but I felt super old watching them, surrounded by a lot of under-21 year/olds.  

Then I wandered back north, stopping by the EDM stage, Perry’s.  Five stars to lolla for having a stage devoted to one type of music.  I’m pretty sure lots of people spend their entire day dancing to the DJs at Perrys.  I enjoyed part of Monsta’s set from afar.  As I headed back north to catch Band of Horses at 4:15pm I walked through the food stands.  They do the same thing as ACL, having local restaurants setup stands rather than typical concert-venue food.  Similarly, there is also an artist market and farmers market on the west side of the park.  Ah- which reminds me, the craft beer situation.  Ha, I scoff because it’s juuust like ACL’s and serves Bud products only.  However, Chicago’s craft beer includes Goose Island’s 312 wheat and green lime pale ale ($8 each).  On the west side of the park is also The Grove stage, which is surrounded by trees, and can get very crowded.  As it was for Atlas Genius, which I couldn’t get close enough to see, but sounded great.  Will have to check them out further. Like ACL, Lolla has two larger stages facing one and another, at both ends of the park.  BOH was at the largest one north, and as I made my way closer to the front and center,  heard Jessie Hare playing.  Her voice was nice, but it’s country.

Band of Horses was incredible.  The best I’ve ever heard them (also my third time seeing them live).  I met fellow BOH dude friends, and together we enjoyed how great they sounded and how thankful we were for the clouds overhead.  Thievery Corporation started playing immediately thereafter, which I heard while finding the uncrowded (but not Honey Bucket) port-a-potty and purchasing my second $8 beer of the day.  I heard that one song of theirs I know (from Garden State).  It’s a bit of a trek between the far north and south stages, but I wanted to try to hear Imagine Dragons for a little.  That was an impossible feat, as the Lakeshore stage was sooo crowded.  I did a quick walk-by and thought they also sounded okay.  Back north- again, to check out HeyMarseilles, which I just heard of in my Lolla-prep.  Highly recommend these guys for anybody who likes my taste in music.  The lead singer sounds oddly The Decemberists, and these 20-something guys can play a mean fiddle.  
similar to Colin Meloy from
Sometime during their set I found myself next to another band, in the audience.  Somebody else recognized them, and after further research I think it was Lianne La Havas and her backup dudes.  I’m not sure if I’ll catch Lianne on Sunday, due to scheduling conflicts, but it was pretty neat to see her among the masses.

After passing by dancey Disclosure and catching a few songs I knew from Queens of the Stone Age, I swung by the Samsung Galaxy booth for a free battery swap and a free pizza voucher. 
The line for deep-dish was unfortunately long, but you all know I’m never one to turn down free shwag.  I patiently waited for my dinner, and took it to eat at the Grove Stage, waiting for Scottish band, Frightened Rabbit, to start.  These guys were very Mumford-sounding, and even though I was fairly front and center, the show wasn’t as fun as I’d hoped.  

As they finished, I made my way south to find a spot to hear some of the Killers before walking back north, and home for the night.

I heard a few Killers songs, which were great, then caught part of Steve Aoki’s set at Perry’s (insane!), swung by Lana Del Rey at the Grove (meeeh) and finished with some Nine Inch Nails.  It didn’t seem like the video monitors were working for NIN, however the guy’s voice is great.  It was a great show to finish up on, as I could hear them for most of my walk home (all of 10 minutes, might I add).

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Chicago- First Two Weeks

(originally written 8/2013)

Two Step and I have survived our first two weeks in the Second City, however it feels like we’ve been here much longer.   I have been incredibly busy at work (working past 5pm, for the first time in three years, whaaaat) so there hasn’t been much time for anything else.  I’ve made a few trips to Target for the essentials, found the closest Trader Joe’s and Jewel, and hit up the Teej down the street from my office.  Everything is very convenient, which is great- however, it’s hard to get used to having such little physical separation between work and everything else.

My apartment is on the 25th floor and has a great view of the Wrigley Building, the Swiss Hotel, the Chicago River and Navy Pier to the distance.   My balcony and view is the definitely the best part of my room.  And, my building itself is great.  I have an indoor and outdoor pool, workout facilities (with group classes!), in-room laundry machines, and both a CVS and full-fledged grocery store around the corner.  Like I said, everything is really convenient.

This weekend I’m attending Lollapalooza, which is also ridiculously convenient.  I figured this would be the only time in my life where I can walk less than three blocks to a music festival.  Even if I don’t know anybody else going, I ought to go.  So, in an effort to revive this blog, I’ll start it back up with my thoughts on my first trip to #lolla.

Friday, April 5, 2013

reason to post!

My friends (and faithful blog-readers!) Dasha & Pasha had a beautiful baby girl yesterday. I had the honor of visiting Alice when she wasn't even one day old. Although she has some fiercely sharp nails, she is otherwise perfect. Congratulations Dash & Pash!

Feed Me!

Papa Pasha

Holding a baby is weird.

"Am I doing this right?" For the record, he seemed more normal holding Baby Alice than I did.

Alice's first girls' night.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Welcome Back Life

Dear remaining blog readers,
I’m back. I finished my exam Saturday afternoon.
Status: Pass
Since Saturday afternoon I’ve spent almost every free moment bike riding outside. Sorry rest of world, Austin was 70 degrees and sunny all weekend. The disadvantage to the beautiful January weather is horrible cedar allergies. Friends, I am suffering. The backs of my eyeballs have never been this itchy. Woe is me.

And as a reward for all the hard work I’ve done this past month, I bought a rolling pin!
Last night I listened to Jack Johnson and made Christmas cookies. Then while the cookies cooled, I also made dinner! The stress from the exam was seriously prohibiting my ability to succeed in the kitchen, so last night I made one of the best meals I’ve cooked in a long time. Recipe and picture from Health-Bent. If you like sweet potatoes, I highly recommend this deliciously healthy meal.
Chris got home from work in time to pick his own pizza toppings. Thus leaving my potato with not nearly enough sausage. Note to self: next time, make more toppings.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Favorite Things 2012

I know I am super behind this year. It’s 100% the fault of studying like a maniac so I pass my PHR exam. So, before it’s already February, I present the third annual, Favorite Things! Year One. Year Two.

A list of some things that made me happiest all year long:
1. Exercise
After my first (and probably last) half marathon

In 2012 I ran my first 10k and my first half marathon. Since December 2011, I clocked-in at the gym 163 times. And, that doesn't include the hours I spent running outside, using the elliptical at my old apartment complex, or playing kickball or volleyball. To track my various workouts, I’ve been using Fitocracy for a little over a year. I have 226 recorded workouts since 12/27/11. Some of my favorite classes at 24 Hour were Natasha’s Power Sculpt and Athletic Training and anything taught by Tio. Goals for 2013 are completing my first triathlon and clocking-in at 24 Hour more than 163 times.

2. Larabars
Chris kept up with the Paleo diet for most of 2012. One of my favorite discoveries from this change in diet was Larabars. Unlike Luna or Cliff Bars, most Larabar flavors are made up of entirely fruits and nuts. Because the ingredients are so simple, I tried to make my own. I mixed nuts and dried fruit in the food processor, shaped them into bars, and put them in the fridge. Yeah, no. It about killed my hand-me-down food processor. So, I'll stick to buying them at Sam’s for <$1 each, or when they’re on sale at Sprouts or HEB. I think they make great breakfasts.

3. Favorite Beers

I thought I could have drank the Alaskan White all year. But since the weather changed this fall, I've been on a serious porter/stout kick. Sometime around Thanksgiving, Real Ale's Coffee Porter came into my life.
Things haven’t been the same since. One other beer worth mentioning is New Belgium’s Lips of Faith Imperial Coffee Chocolate Stout.
Do not drink the entire bottle yourself, it is quite strong. Share it and savor it.

4. Music
I know I'm not the only person who thinks there were really only three songs for most of 2012. Call Me Maybe, Somebody I Used to Know, and We are Young. Despite my love/hate relationship with those pop hits, this year I came to love Dave's new album and a plethora of other bands that all sound pretty much the same.
I liked them all, and got to see many of them at ACL Fest.

5. Hot Tea
Another change in my diet has been drinking lots more hot tea. I’ll drink something black and caffeinated in the afternoons at work, or something herbal and caffeine-free after dinner and before bed. It’s especially perfect when it’s 45 degrees in the house. (We try not to use our heater very much, and the last two weeks of cold weather are not helping our electricity bill).

6. Favorite Books from the Library
The library became one of my closest friends this year. The wait list was well worth it for these page-turners.
Often compared to Eat Pray Love, Wild is an autobiographical story of a 20 something woman hiking the Pacific Coast Trail (from California to the Oregon/Washington coast). It's a lot grittier than Eat Pray Love, but certainly has similar themes.
Although Amazon reviewers give it only 3 stars, Swamplandia! tied for the Pulitzer this year. About a young girl and her family of alligator wrestlers, it first reminded me of Julie of the Wolves. Which I hated. However, I think my age has made me more tolerant, and I thought that the Russell's story was fascinating. Her life is very different from mine, not to mention that she's only 31.
Probably my overall favorite of the year. The Night Circus is nuts. And when putting this post together I discovered that the movie rights have been sold. Visually, this book was amazing, so I can hardly wait to see what the producers of the Harry Potter series do with the movie.

7. Eco Vessel Water Bottle
The greatest water bottle invented, ever. I got my Eco Vessel 25-oz stainless steal filtration bottle for free from Dice, a recruiting vendor we don't even work with anymore. It keeps your water cold for hours. However, do not use it for anything other than water. Nate learned that the hard way, after he used the one I got him for his birthday to carry hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps to Trail of Lights. After countless washes, it still smells like peppermint. I highly recommend this for any water bottle connoisseurs out there.

8. Favorite TV shows
This year they were Game of Thrones, Gilmore Girls, and Downton Abby. Initially, I wasn't sure if I’d like GOT, as I’d heard it’s very sexual and very violent. And, while I don’t think all the nudity is necessary, the violence doesn't bother me, and the plot is thrilling. Season 3 starts in March, and it can’t get here any sooner! Gilmore Girls will always be one of my favorites, and I rewatched it for a series and a half throughout 2012. Downton, I adore. It’s beautifully shot and the character development is fantastic. I definitely recommend that one. The US premiere of season 3 is in January (it’s already aired in the UK). Goals for 2013 are finishing The Sopranos, Homeland, Bunheads, and maybe Breaking Bad.

9. Pop Culture Happy Hour
I’ve mentioned it before, but NPR’s podcast, Pop Culture Happy Hour has been such a wonderful addition to my week. Four intelligent, well-spoken, and funny employees produce a weekly podcast covering current events, media classics, and other entertainment-related topics. I listen to it while on the elliptical, and it really does make a 45 minute workout fly by.

10. Canada Trip
This July, Chris and I had the privilege of exploring Calgary and the Canadian Rockies. Banff, Lake Louise, and Jasper National Park are some of the most naturally beautiful places I've ever seen.

11. My Bike!
Probably, seriously, my most favorite purchase of the year. I bought a 25'' 2011 Fuji Crosstown in October. My only regret is not buying it sooner.

12. Amazon Prime
For $79 a year you get free 2 day shipping on all “Prime Eligible” purchases (almost everything). I really don’t like shopping, and Amazon definitely saves the day for buying tons of useful items. You can read lots of of user reviews before you buy too. These bad boys arrived in the mail for me today. Plus, you have unlimited access to live stream hundreds of movies and TV shows. They have tons of classics! I've recently reinstated an abandoned goal from high school to watch all the Academy Award winners. Amazon Prime has tons of them! Pretty great.

Although it's probably obvious, I feel I should mention that nobody is paying me to talk about any of these products. Also, it's not like there were only 12 items making me happy during 2012. I didn't even mention the JCrew starfish earrings Natalie got me last Christmas, my Brooks running shoes, or the amazing deals I snagged at TJ Maxx and Ross. Tons of things were my favorites in 2012, but I cannot blog about everything. So, three cheers to a successful 2012 and an even better 2013. Happy New Year everybody.