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This Album Does Not Exist

It’s finally here!  After a long wait and tons of work!  Release day for Dreamers!  Yes, all these exclamation marks are necessary.  I couldn’t be more excited (as well as the legions who love them) that their first full length album has been birthed into the world.

I was fortunate to see the gents Wednesday night for an in-store performance in Portland.  They stripped down a few songs into acoustic versions and WOWed  everyone, as they normally do with their live performance.  Come on with that Never Too Late to Dance.  Big heart emoji right there.  They were charming as ever as they signed posters, posed for pictures, and chatted with all the people who came out.

However, my 600 mile round trip had a second purpose.  I couldn’t let those nice guys have a huge celebration without cookies, could I?  What kind of fan do you think I am?  So without further adieu, I introduce the This Album Does Not Exist cookie.

Dreamers

I joked they went out to find the hardest image ever for their cover because they wanted to make sure I had to work for it.

No visit could be complete with Dreamers if I didn’t get a selfie with each.  They’re always too kind to put up with my picture addiction.

Aren’t they just adorable?  Now, head out there to buy their album, see them in concert, and shower them with love.

 

Kill the Boy BandCover Me:  I love everything about this cover.  The simplicity with the black background and the bold hot pink is killer.  (Pun intended.)  Even after you strip off the book jacket, it reveals a hot pint book binding and I fall in love all over again.  This cover didn’t have to draw me in because I was already in love with the concept when I read about it six months ago.  I’ve been waiting, and waiting, and waiting.

The Concept:  Four Mega-fans of the boy band The Ruperts get together to find a way into their sold out concert.  Their plan is to stay at the same hotel.  In a short time due to to coincidence, they end up kidnapping the least popular member of the band.  Things go from bad to worse when he ends up dead.

What is there not to love about this concept?  It’s all my favorite things in a nice little package.  Music? Check. Superfans? Yup. Hijinx to get close to their fave band?  Solid.  This concept had me months before it came out.  I couldn’t wait to read it, even before all the terrific reviews rolled in about this dark comedy.

The Peeps:  The main character never gives her name, although she’s made out to be the most sane in the group.  Don’t we all think that when telling our version of the story?  Each of the four girls are described well and have distinct personalities.  The same goes for the The Ruperts, even though they all share the same first name.  I most enjoyed Rupert the Juggler who ends up dying.  Sure he was a giant asshole when talking with the fangirls.  At least he owned it, which was in contrast to his band persona where he really couldn’t find his identity.

The Ending (spoiler alert!):  The story had nice suspense in trying to figure out what happened in the room when Rupert died.  Especially when our main character doubts her sanity and wonders if maybe she did kill him.  Hey, I think we’ve all been there when you get wrapped up in excitement, right?  I know there’s been some times I may have regretted my concert action the next day.  (For the record, no one died.)

The romance between the main character and her favorite Rupert (I think it was K, but I’m not sure any more) was cute.  Isn’t it every fan girl’s dream that when she does meet the object of her affection, he finds her charming, interesting, beautiful in her own way, and wants to continue to hang out with her?  Oh, just me?  I’m not sure this rings anything near reality because Mikel has yet to say anything about my charming personality or wanting to be BFFs.

The actual resolution to the murder mystery was a little flat for me, but I understand why it had to go there.  There were humorous parts to the book, but I wasn’t falling down laughing like I thought I might.  However, it’s still a solid, fun read.

What I Cooked Up:  Since I may know a thing or two about being a fangirl, even at my age, I wanted to incorporate how I appreciate my favorites.  It seemed only fitting to make the band into a cookie.  While I don’t really know what they look like, this was my interpretation.

ruperts

 

As you know when my fave bands go on tour, and I’m nowhere near one of their cities, my “fear of missing out” is off the charts.  Throw into the equation Coast Modern and my CoMo FOMO is off the fucking charts.

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It was only four weeks ago when I was at their show.

While I will have some shows coming up in the Fall when they open up for Temper Trap, I won’t be part of this tour with the Wombats that started in Milwaukee, WI for Summerfest last night.  So what do I do in these troubled times?  Give away cookies, of course.

Coast Modern 2

So how do you win this CoMo-licious stash?  It’s rather easy — turn your family, friends, and acquaintances into CoMo-sapiens.  Yep, I can do this to every word.  You’ll earn points for getting people to follow their social media accounts, buy their music, and leave reviews.

One point will be awarded for each social account they follow/like, three points for purchasing their three released songs, and three points for each review they write.

You’re probably asking “How will you know?”  First, I like to assume you’re honest.  Come on people, these are cookies.  Let’s not lose our integrity over a dessert.  However, if there is a question of legitimacy, proof will be requested.

Document how many friends did what in the comment section of this contest status for Delish or in the comment section below.  Please list out how many for each category so I know how many points to award.  Example: 5 Facebook “Likes”, 2 Twitter “Follows,” 10 friends bought the songs, 3 left reviews on iTunes.  Easy peasy.

The person with the most points will win and the cookies (more than pictured above) will be shipped to them.  Contest will end at 3:00 pm on July 23, 2016.  If I’ve forgotten something, feel free to hit me up. Good luck and share the #CoMo vibes.

It’s safe to say I haven’t kept up with the Pretending blog series very well.  The idea started after I had some conversations with some pretty kick ass women who were doubting their kick-assery.  Unacceptable.  I made the commitment to be brave and face off against some insecurities to help them see how amazing they truly are.  To be frank, I’ve really let them down in his effort.  Not only because I haven’t been writing about it, but more because I haven’t been living it.  So here I am, ready to be as vulnerable as I can imagine, and hope you will be kind.

We all have some crazy.  We’re human.  Made up of character rich flaws with unique coping mechanisms.  My demons always rise from self-doubt and worrying about ruining things I love.  The anxiety from it can engulf all my thoughts for days on end by over analyzing meaningless details.  Did that sideways look mean I said something stupid?   Did I come off looking too needy by sending a follow-up text when they didn’t text back in the first place?  Oh my God, what are they going to think after watching that five minute drunken snap story?   In a rational mind, I can see these aren’t that big of a deal in the scheme of life.  However, when I’m spiraling, my “crazies” hijack all rationality and tell me I have ruined something important.

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Towards the end of last year I struggled with finding a mental balance.  I fluctuated from experiencing fantastic highs on the good days to self-loathing lows when I made a simple mistake.  I punished myself for days by replaying what I saw as poor choices.  Each time asking myself how I could’ve been so stupid. Finally I got to a place where I didn’t want to hate on myself anymore.  I needed some help with perspective to bring my psyche back to an even kilter.

I talk to people every day about how it takes great strength and courage to admit when you need help.  I encourage them to seek assistance with others, even professionals, if they find their support systems aren’t providing relief.  I go on and on about how there’s nothing wrong with going to therapy; it’s just a sounding board to give you an unbiased  opinion.  But there I was, worried about letting anyone know I decided to go.

It wasn’t my first time.  I received great advice years ago and saw results in enhancing important relationships.  So why was it such a big deal now?  Maybe I worried people would think I should be lucky to have such trivial problems. Or  worse, maybe others will blow it out of proportion, which happens after your immediate family member commits suicide.  Even now I struggle to write the words with some fear there will be a perception assigned.

When I went, I confirmed one thing I already knew — I’m an “all or nothing” kind of person.  I want things to mean one thing or another.  Defined.  Judgmental. It’s a very difficult expectation to hold yourself.  What I learned was two things could be true at the same time.  I could be a good person and make a bad decision.  I learned the importance in trusting what people say and not always look for the “what did they really mean.”  Lastly, I got a most helpful “check the facts” sheet.  At those times when I start to awfulize a situation, I have to pull out a questionnaire and write down the answers.  A reality check, if you will.  What are other possible conclusions?  And what’s the absolute worst case scenario?  The process helps see the situation for the importance it should given instead of what my mind wants to blow it into.

The few sessions proved helpful to gain some tools I’d been lacking.  Because she was also an artist, the conversations included subjects around the creative process.  We discussed the benefits of meditation, finding the “wise mind,” and validating my own art.

So why would I share all this information about my mental health?  Something so personal and a topic most people are uncomfortable talking about?  Bringing this subject out into the light is the only way to change the stigmas.  Showing it’s okay to admit we have doubts.  Vulnerabilities.  Insecurities.  Flaws.  Crazies.  I do this to encourage you to share your struggles, appreciate these challenges in each other, and refuse to be embarrassed of what you battle.  Because even if we don’t believe it in the moment, if we want to change how people view mental illness, we need to pretend not to be ashamed of who we truly are.

 

 

It only seems fitting on National Selfie Day and Dreamers first day back out on the road playing Kansas City, I would finally get around to announcing the Dreamers selfie winner.  (The delay only had a smidge to do with the fact my computer died.  Let’s ignore this horror as I borrow a computer, shall we?)

Below are the entries and they are something spectacular.  You and Dreamers team brought your A-game with this competition.  I was torn between which one would take home the prize.  Here they are for your review:

Let me mention again how much I love Dreamers.  Who would put up with such craziness and participate in some of these killer action shots?  (Seriously, that one of Jacob looks like he’s going to kill someone.)

The winner will receive a little Dreamers prize package, which will include their choice of one of Dreamers’ favorite treats:  Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch bar, Pecan bar, or the S’more bar.  Yes, I ask them all the time which their favorites are because how else will I know what to make to win their hearts over?

In the end I can only pick one winner.

Whitney with Vampire Gizmo

There’s something perfect about this shot.  Maybe it’s because of the black and white effect or the fact she seems unphased by Mr. Wold’s craziness above.  Or it could be that rockin’ shirt he has going.  I just love it.

Thank you to all who participated and I hope you had fun along the way taking pictures with some of the coolest people.  Never fear, there will be treats again, I’m sure.

Meeting Coast Modern

After months of pining on Twitter for a Coast Modern show, I was graced with one on the West Coast.  Yes, I said the West Coast.  Since I live in a small town on the Southern Oregon border, travel is required for any band I want to see live.  And when we’re talking about Coast Modern I pretty much would’ve traveled anywhere along the Pacific Ocean to finally see them.

Last November when I submerged myself in all things Dreamers, I heard Coast Modern’s debut song Hollow Life played on Alt Nation.  It may show you how incredible it was because it was really hard to get in my head during that time.  Then a serendipitous moment hit when one of my new Dreamers’ friends, DJ Beauty, suggested I give it a go.

Mix a good song with a hella fun Twitter presence and you’ve pretty much landed on my Favorite People Top Ten list. While this new Coast Modern band was pretty illusive about releasing any details about themselves, they were responsive, charming and engaging in the Twitterverse.  It was easy to make a dance video of their song and include them on Twitter blasts.  They were even charitably understanding when I Snap Attacked them a couple times.  How could you not love them for that alone?  Now after months of gushing in 140 character-ed spurts, I would be able to see if they could live up to all the hype I created in my head.

I’m not going to play this down, I was pretty freaking excited.  I’d worked in a double concert shot by catching Dreamers in Fresno and then coming back up to Coast Modern in San Fran.  Could there have been anything better?  (Uh yes…you could throw in an Airborne Toxic Event or a Limousines show to completely blow my fucking mind.)  I knew catching Coast Modern in a small venue at these early stages was something special. I don’t think they’ll be this small for long with all the buzz going around.  However, that didn’t mean I would feel the love.  I have different criteria to be one of my fave bands.  Meeting them in person is requirement to determine if I can really invest my heart.

My Bay Area friend let me use her place to get ready while she worked and she even agreed to meet me at the show.  Taking Uber to the city hurts a bit.  The bill kills you until you consider the driving, the parking, and the needing to be completely sober.  Then the dollar signs don’t look so bad anymore.  Lucky for me, my Uber driver was a pretty nice guy.  After he complained about the company for the first fifteen minutes, he asked what I was doing.  Okay, my turn to put Coast Modern on blast and I did.  By the time he rolled up to my destination he promised me he would check them out and tell his son to do the same.

“You sure this is it?” he said when we both looked at a purple spray painted door with the address digits stenciled on the front.

“I think so?” And jumped out before he gave me some lecture about how a female shouldn’t go to shows alone.  And if you think I haven’t heard that story before, you have no fucking idea what it’s like to be a woman.

Two eager, fresh faced people stood by the wall.  (I named them #1 and #2, and yes, I called them those names all night.  Have you ever read this blog?  Everyone gets a nickname.)  I made sure they were going to the same show and I did actually have the right place.  They told me about the other band and I got in some more Coast Modern lovin’.  “I drove all the way from Oregon for them,” I said.  My mantra throughout the night.

I won’t bore you with details about walking around trying to find something to do until doors opened or my friend catching me Snapping a video as I walked across the street.  In the end, I stood front and center at that stage.  And then I kinda panicked.

For people who don’t use social media to death, it can make an awkward relationship.  I mean, can you even call it that?  Do we have a relationship?  I mean, maybe you recognize my Twitter profile pic.  Do I introduce myself as Susan or sprunty2000?  It wouldn’t be long before Coast Modern took the stage and I’d have to make eye contact with someone I’ve never met but know somewhat?  That’s when the worry started.  What if they have no idea who I am?  I mean, I told them I was coming.  What if they didn’t care?  Heck, why would they care?  Nothing is worse than trying to over-explain your existence.

My coping mechanism?  Meet people.  I grabbed some of the stickers from the merch table and made my way around the joint. I asked everyone who they were there to see and then promised them something special from the opener’s show.  They smiled, nodded, and agreed to give them a chance.  They got a sticker, I took their picture, and moved on to the next group.  Several asked if I worked for Coast Modern and I said, “Nope.  I just like them a lot.  I drove all the way from Oregon to see them.”

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These two dudes were my first victims. They were such sports, I really ran amuck after them.

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This was much prettier than the real gauges in his ear.

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It wasn’t long before I Got #1 and #2 on the bandwagon too.

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And these two? I just loved them. They posed for each other all night. One of my fave couples.

As show time approached, I worried more about how I was supposed to act.  Do I wave?  Pretend like I’m not the same person that blows up their Twitter feed with nonsense?  Should I try to act somewhat mature so they don’t ban me from future shows?  And what about pictures?  Should I take my million pictures?  Oh God, please don’t let my concert Tourette’s kick in and start barking out rando facts.  This was their IRL first impression of me and we all know you only get one chance.

Coast Modern walked on the stage and my worry amped to 11. (Yep, anytime I can get that Spinal Tap reference in a blog, I do.)  Lead singer Coleman seemed to half-smile when we made brief eye contact.  It was a half smile, right?  Was it recognition?  Maybe appreciation I traveled for their show?  Or maybe it wasn’t for me at all.  Maybe it was directed at Pretty Young Thing standing at my side.

They started with a song they haven’t released yet.  The vibe confirmed it was going to be a good show and I kept my excitement in check.  Maybe I could pull off being seemingly normal all night.  Then, they went into Guru and I was done.  Music has a funny way of doing that.  A familiar song you love and have played on repeat a million times lights up your soul.  The dancing started, the camera came out, and I recognized myself again.

Coast Modern killed it.  I mean, this wasn’t “Oh I’ve got dreamy eyes for this band and you can play all shitty for me to still love you” kind of show.  This was “people who didn’t know them were dancing their asses off” music being pumped out.  The show flew by so fast I was sad when Hollow Life closed the set.  How could it be over already?

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It’s really hard to choose one Coleman Trapp picture to capture the moment, but this picture calls to me.

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This one also has a je ne sais quoi to it.  I love it.

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That sound? It’s girls swooning everywhere for Luke Atlas.

The set ended, lead singer Coleman swooped up his set list, and they all darted off stage.  Not gonna lie, I think my hand might have been out thinking he would give it to me since I begged for one on Twitter the day before.  Sucking up my sadness, I looked down to grab any of the other ones.  They were already gone.  Snatched.  Vanished.  I died inside.  Pretty Young Thing offered me the one she held.  I declined.  She’d marked it with her lips before the show.  That was her memory on that set list.  I couldn’t take it no matter how selfish I wanted to be.

I was back to awkward “what happens now?”  P.Y.T. asked me to stay up front for the next band. I told her it’s a travesty to be a “Front” when you’ve never heard a song before.  I excused myself to slink back to the merch table to enhance my tee shirt collection.  Do the familiar.  Get my head back to reality.  I was there for a good concert and that’s what I got.

While worming through people, I ran smack right into Coleman.  Literally, I looked up from the floor and we were face to face.  All the worry, insecurity, and doubt choked off any intelligent thought I might have had.  This is usually when my Concert Tourette’s gets the best of me and I scream out something ridiculous.

I can’t remember who said “hey” first.  Don’t jump to any conclusions, I told myself.  It didn’t mean anything.  You just shoved your phone three feet from his face for the last forty minutes.  He’s probably plotting the quickest way out from this awkward interaction.

“Did you get your set list?” he said.

“Uh…oh no.  They were all taken,” I said.

“I saved you mine.  I’ll go get it.”  He turned to head backstage and in that moment I fell truly, madly, deeply in love with Coast Modern.  Because in that moment all of it was real.  Everything I wanted them to be was captured in that one thoughtful act.

Coast Modern only continued to impress when they talked with people, signed gear, and posed for pictures. They took the time to treat each person like a special snowflake. That kind of niceness I can’t resist.  I was hooked.  Done.  Completely smitten.  Forever loyal.

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Luke’s poses are like nothing else. He killed me with this, which led to taking thousands. You MUST get a picture with him.

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This is totally the international symbol of endearment and we should be Best Friends Forever, right?  No way Coleman could be implying “Hey crazy Susan, I’m kinda tired of this.”

I really can’t say enough about meeting Coast Modern.  The music was terrific.  Seriously, one of the best shows.  A good feeling party.  I could go to one every night to fill my spirit.  As for the gentlemen themselves, they were kind, funny, and genuine; the kind of people you want to get behind and wish wonderful things for.  It’s an experience I recommend everyone check out for themselves because it’s a rarity you get all this greatness in one package.

 

Documenting a Dream

Everyone knows at music concerts there’s going to be phones recording every moment.  They light up the audience, sprouting from every hand in the black mass.  They’ve become as much of the show as the band performing.  A couple weeks ago during the Saint Motel concert, lead singer A/J incorporated the devices when he asked the crowd to use their phone flashlights to light up the stage. The audience obliged and became part of the show.  In a stark contrast, four nights later at The Lumineers’ concert, the lead singer stopped in the middle of “Ho Hey” and asked everyone to put their phones down.  Several fans erupted in cheers with a smug “enjoy the moment” superiority.

If you’ve met me, read this blog, or attended a show where I’ve been in the crowd, I think you know on which side I fall.  My phone is a fixture at every concert I attend.  I now need a battery backup because I drain it in the few hours at the venue.  While there are articles galore on the need to put away the phone, live in the moment, and enjoy the experience without seeing it through a screen, I want to point out some positives in documenting the live concert experience.

1.)  Replaying a Feeling.

While some may never return to their pictures or videos, I review them all the time.   During the moment, I suck up every single second of the live music experience swirling around me and I never want it to end.  With my mind buzzing with excitement and vodka, little details can be missed or forgotten no matter how bad I want to capture everything.  (And for the judgy who are going to suggest I don’t drink at shows, I have done that with the same blurred results.)

Also, the concert high is like a drug for some of us.  Those weeks after when you’re coming down from a show are some of the hardest times.  There’s a real sense of loss.  The pictures offer a small piece of comfort.  They ignite little moments in memory, small flashes to replay a scene in my head, which gives some relief to the depression.

It was so hard to get a clear picture of Coast Modern's Coleman Trapp because he bounced around the entire show.

It was so hard to get a clear picture of Coast Modern’s Coleman Trapp because he bounced around the entire show. (swoon)

2.)  Sharing the Love.

During the concert, I send snaps to fans and friends all over the country that I’ve met through my concert travels.  It’s a small way to include them in the experience if the band can’t make it to their neck of the woods or if they can’t pony up the dollars to attend for themselves.  You’d be surprised how much people look forward to being part of the experience in the moment even it’s through the screen.  Hello, have you heard of Periscope?

After the show, I flood Twitter with highlights and overwhelm my personal Facebook with EVERY. SINGLE. PICTURE.  Yes, there was the Dreamers concert tour where I uploaded 533 pictures.  People now expect to see my picture barrage when I return from my trip.  I think my friends would be disappointed if I didn’t share my experience.

Sure, I have a gazillion pictures of Nelson, but I have a soft spot for hair action shots.

Sure, I have a gazillion pictures of Dreamers’ Nelson, but I have a soft spot for hair action shots.

3.)  Inspiring Others.

Here’s a regular conversation I have every time I come back from a show and share pictures:

  • Them: “You’re always going to cool shows.”
  • Me: “I love concerts.  It’s my passion.”
  • Them:  “Yeah.  I wish I did cool things.”
  • Me:  “Start today.”

As I cycle through the pictures and videos, I share my personal stories from the event.  Usually there’s something about how I made a fool out of myself, probably scared the band with my over-excitement, and loved every minute of living.  I believe this is what inspires others to take chances to follow their own dreams.  They hear being vulnerable can have amazing returns if you’re brave enough to try.  Most recently, people shared they could never go to some place by themselves when I explained I regularly travel alone to attend shows in other cities.  (Please note, I travel a minimum of 10 hours roundtrip for EVERY show.)  I scroll through pictures of the great people I met by overcoming that awkward feeling to turn strangers into friends.  Usually by the end, they’re smiling, nodding their head, and imaging themselves in the same situation.  I hope that little spark gets them to go live the life they dream of because they know I am.

Dreamers' Nick Wold makes picture taking always an experience. If you haven't before, you must get one with him.

Dreamers’ Nick Wold always makes picture-taking an experience. If you haven’t before, you must get one with him.

4.)  Supporting the Band.

As fans, we should really be doing our part to make sure our favorite artists can continue to make music.  I know no one likes to talk about it, but being a musician is a job.  It needs to have a monetary return for it to stay in business.  I say it every chance I get — fans support your bands with your money, your love, and your social media.  Sharing the concert experience perks interest in others who may not have given them a spin yet.  Being blown away by a fan’s view from a live performance can encourage someone else to buy the album, check out a show for themselves, and drop coin on merchandise.  These are the best ways to ensure the bands we love will continue to do the job they love.

Luke Atlas from Coast Modern has so many great facial expressions I wish I could insert a gallery just for this. Alas, I picked only one picture to capture all his amazing.

Who’s to say what is right in this ongoing debate, if you should or shouldn’t video your concert experience?  I will say I don’t appreciate it when people judge me for how I choose to enjoy my concert.  (BTW, if you’ve ever seen my videos or photos, you know it doesn’t stop me from dancing or watching the show over my phone while I snap pictures.)  I’ve heard more snide remarks than I can count.  The constant chant that I’m watching a screen instead of living in the moment is laughable to me because I think I’m doing the exact opposite.  I live it to the fullest at the show by talking to strangers and being part of the concert community.  I live it again when I recount the details to friends in stories about my amazing experience.  And I get to live it again when I share some of my favorite band experiences with you.  For me, there’s no better way to do it.

I mean, how many people will have a picture taken while Coast Modern is playing? Soon, you won't even be able to move one inch in the pit.

I mean, how many people will have a picture taken with Coast Modern while their playing? Soon, you won’t even be able to move one inch in the pit because there will be so many people crammed in there. And I want to believe Coleman’s expression in this pictures is one of super excitement and not “wtf?”

 

And look, they were champs and didn't fear me too much to avoid a posed picture.

And look, they were champs and didn’t fear me too much to avoid a posed picture. And yes, I picked the best picture of me instead of the best one of them. Coleman and Luke are stunning all the time. I am not. Did I mention how much I heart them? Oh, that’s another blog…

 

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