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Rainy Days and Subways Always Get Me Down

13 Oct

Yes yes, I know, this is heinously behind schedule. However, I thought it would be a good time to capitalize on a headline that partially applies to both my Philadelphia trip and the present day.

Let me pick up where I left off: Friday in Philly.

As my bleary eyes adjusted to the gray morning light, I tried to work out the kink in my neck (that would be my companion for the duration of the trip) and peeked out the Megabus window onto the drizzly streets of one of America’s most historical cities. After a few more minutes and a confusing pseudo-stop, at which some passengers got off when I don’t think they were supposed to (we almost did), we finally rounded the bend into the Philadelphia Amtrak station.

Since we didn’t actually have a plan (we were thinking we’d try our hand at couch surfing, remember?), this great marbly structure functioned as a cozy resting place and free wi-fi connection for the next couple of hours. What we really thought would be cool was if we could meet some other college kids attending POPPED!, become best friends with them, convince them to let us crash at their place, and go to a fun University of Pennsylvania college party with them. Therefore, the plan formed to make our way over to campus in search of our new Philly friends, and we Google mapped our route from the train station.

FACT: if you’re trying to make friends with strangers, it won’t happen. This stuff needs to be organic. I sort of wish we wouldn’t have been so deluded by sleep deprivation to not recognize this.
It also may have been more likely that we’d meet people had it not transitioned from sprinkling to pouring in the rain department not minutes before. None of us had actually wanted to consciously admit it might rain on our trip, so we had no coats or umbrellas to protect ourselves or our backpacks containing all our worldly possessions. Hence: the Turtlebacks.

Turtlebacks: the latest in backpack rain protection.

Yes, we walked around Philadelphia with garbage bags (not used, we got them fresh from the train station gift shop) on our backs. Is it any wonder we didn’t make new friends? I’d never felt more nomadic in my life than on this trip. Yet walk we did, all the way to the U Penn campus where, being completely soaked, we retreated to their book store still clinging to our last vestiges of hope. Let me note a couple of things:
1. The U Penn bookstore is like a classier version of Barnes & Noble. For goodness sake, they were selling wine glasses and whiskey tumblers with the U Penn logo on them. It made our bookstore look like a scary dungeon, though looking at it in general usually makes it look like a scary dungeon.
2. Shit gets real when you’re soaking wet, the threat of pneumonia is looming, and you’ve only gotten minimal amounts of sleep in uncomfortable positions over the last 12 or so hours, coupled with looking like a homeless crust punk in a building full of East Coast kids in their daily prep wear. A hot shower and a cozy bed started to sound like a godsend.

We totally caved on the couch surfing. Not that we didn’t look, but no one in Philadelphia was offering up a spot for four college kids. So we tapped into the U Penn bookstore Starbuck’s wi-fi and began our hotel search, but after a while the connection got super shoddy. I think it sensed we weren’t there to buy our Philosophy books. Thus began our campus coffee shop tour in search of enough Internet to get us on expedia.com and book a room. We wandered for a while, occasionally popping into area hotels to look for vacancies.
Now I know how Mary and Joseph felt, except no one was even offering us a barn. I think it had something to do with the garbage bag backs.

Finally, Dan found us an affordable place in Historical Downtown Philadelphia, and we quickly booked a room and Googled directions (Google Maps was by far the single most useful resource of our trip) to get us there as quickly as possible. Bedraggled and looking like we had just survived an attempted drowning, we shuffled in disheartened silence to the nearest subway that would take us to our dry destination.

Arriving at a hotel has never made me happier. The service was awesome and they had free candy in a bowl by the desk, which Hannah confiscated copious amounts of for later concert sustenance. At long last we were in our room and taking steaming showers and quite possibly the greatest nap of my life, preparing ourselves for the true purpose of this long journey: POPPED! Philadelphia.

Since this is running long (and my power lecture is almost over, forcing me to change locations #FirstWorldProblems) I will do my concert reviews in a post later tonight or tomorrow, but you will definitely want to hear about some of the amazing artists we had the privilege of hearing over the course of the rest of the weekend! Stay tuned.

peace, love and turtlebacks,
J

Good Lord, What Am I Getting Myself Into?

19 Sep

I’m going to Philadelphia, please don’t tell my mom.

In what is sure to be an adventure–and probably spawned from a need for youthful rebellion and most definitely from a love of great music–me and three others (Hannah, Dan, and Margaret) will be trekking our way from the midwest to the east coast for a weekend of non-stop travel and debauchery this approaching weekend.

We embark on this journey in order to attend POPPED! Philadelphia music festival, hosted at FDR Park in Philly September 23 and 24. Headlining Friday night will be the freshly reformed Shins, and Saturday we will be getting down to some Pretty Lights. Some of the other acts playing throughout the weekend include Foster the People, Girl Talk, Cults, The Joy Formidable, Cage the Elephant, Panda Bear, and Kreayshawn. It also features a comedy tent.

Pardon my French, but, I am pretty fucking excited.

Yet half of the weekend fun may be in the process of getting there. In lieu of driving a total of 32 hours over the span of less than four days, we diligently monitored plane ticket prices on airtran.com (a great travel website for any college student going to common destinations) until we could find a faster, affordable way to the Great Cheesesteak City.

Unfortunately tickets to Philly suddenly exceeded our price range as we waited, so we’re flying to New York! The travel breakdown goes like this (it gets long, I apologize):
Thursday: Depart Madison at 3:30pm after last classes and drive to the Milwaukee airport.
Board plane to LaGuardia airport New York, NY at 6:55 and arrive around 10 p.m.
And now we play the waiting game…
Next up, we will likely take turns napping in the airport while waiting for our 6:30 a.m. MegaBus that will take us to Philadelphia by 8:30 Friday morning.

Friday: Once arriving in the city of It’s Always Sunny fame, the plan is to figure out where we will be sleeping/stashing our stuff for the next two nights. Since forking over plane ticket money has left us broke-ass college students, we are trying our hand at Couch Surfing, the perks of which include it being a free place to sleep and that we could potentially meet some really cool people. Or creeps. Whatever, we’ll be in a group of four.
The actual purpose of our visit begins at 2 o’clock, from which point on we will be blissing out on new tuneage until at least the double-digits of the evening.
No actual plans have been made for any jaunts after hours, but my secret hope is that we will befriend a smaller band and party with them. Just saying, it could happen.

Saturday: The fun starts same time, same place. Although we will also be doing as much touring of the city as our tired bodies and time constraints allow prior to festing. I’m hoping to find a Flipadelphia t-shirt somewhere and sample a Philly cheesesteak.
Then it’s music music music, all day long. Post fest, I will be getting a venti coffee because we will need to stay up for our 2:30 a.m. bus taking us back to New York. That’s right, sleep is for the weak.

Sunday: We will arrive back in the Big Apple a las 4:30 in the morning. This time I venture to say we will simply count down the minutes until the first coffee shops fire up their morning brews. While we wait for our 11:45 a.m. flight back to Milwaukee, the ideal situation is that we get to site see something or at least buy some knock-off merchandise in Chinatown. Maybe we’ll pretend to be prospective students and tour NYU, the possibilities are–well, not endless, but there are a lot of them.

Once on our plane, we fly non-stop back to Milwaukee where we will pick up Leeroy (my Buick) and book it back to campus just in time to do all of our procrastinated homework and pass out probably at 7 p.m.

All I’m taking with me is a backpack that will at least contain my tickets, a camera, and a toothbrush. Hello, grungy. But no matter, it will all be worth it for potentially the most exciting and exhausting weekend of my life.

I’ll be doing my best to blog any crazy adventures while I’m there, and you’ll definitely hear from me once I’m back. Also, I’d love to hear recommendations for places to visit, things to see, or foods to try if you’ve ever been to Philadelphia!

What else do you think I just have to squeeze into my backpack? Get at me.

Wish us luck,
J

New(ish) Music: tUnE-yArDs

22 Jun

The drops from soaring falsetto coos to husky tenor vocals create what can only be described as a Dirty Projectors/Adele/Mavis Staples three-way love child. This sound, looped with poppy electro beats and juxtaposed against ukulele and independently-recorded city sounds, composes 32-year-old Merrill Garbus’s music project, tUnE-yArDs, that has this blogger mildly obsessed and in a continuous clash with caps lock.

While belatedly reading my June issue of Spin yesterday I came across an article describing a break-out artist by whom even Yoko Ono couldn’t help feeling upstaged.  After reading a description like this, how could you NOT check this lady out:

“When…Garbus re-creates her quirky pop live, jaws dont just drop, they become temporarily unhinged.” -Spin, June 2011

I’m still trying to reel mine in–and I haven’t even seen her live.

Garbus’s latest album,w h o k i l l, (released April 19, 2011) features a vast array of sounds ranging from reggae to brassy jazz all flawlessly interwoven with xylophones, voiceovers, jungle-esque drums, and tambourines.  If you need further convincing of the quality of this album, here it is: I JUST BOUGHT IT.  Who buys music anymore? Not me. Except in the rare occasion I value an artist at a high enough level to want their album in its clear, studio-sound entirety.

Her wholly unique cacophony (I think that works here in this case) of musical inspiration is so impossible to encapsulate any further that I have run out of carefully crafted similes with which to describe it.  The only hope for you to grasp what I’m talking about now is to listen.

The crazy ones are always the best, especially live, and you can download this single, “Bizness”, for free right hur.

On my last note, whilst writing this post I came to the realization Garbus will be gracing the stage at the Pitchfork Music Festival on July 15… needless to say I will be finding my way down there as soon as I recover from the mini-coronary I suffered upon discovery of said news.

Peace, love and electronic bliss,
J

Eardrum Euphoria: 80s meets today with Internet mix tapes

14 Feb

dish up

This blog post may be difficult to top in terms of my favorite topics.

I love, love, love music and therefore it was inevitable that when I got an email update from TheHypeMachine talking about a new (free) music sharing website I would check it out.  Meet my new obsession: 8tracks.

8tracks.com is a classic mixtape gone digital.  It is a website that allows users to download at least eight tracks of their own music in a mix that can be shared world wide via the Internet.  Users of 8tracks can search artists and genres to find mixes by fellow users that they can listen to, allowing them to enjoy mixes generated by real human beings as opposed to shuffle or Genius functions on iTunes.  It might even introduce said users to a new band to fall in love with, a feeling I equate with the excitement of my first day of kindergarten or the box of chocolates my grandpa gave me for Valentine’s (non-holi)day.

Songs can be loaded straight from iTunes playlists.  It really is that simple.  And just think of the endless possibilities for free tuneage!  To prove its magical powers, here’s a little music montage I put together tonight.  Join the club and follow me to hear future mixes and possibly share some of your own!

listen

love and happy listening,

Jaime