The Englewood Fairytale

The most charming cliché graced my Sunday morning and I want to tell you all about it.

I showed up at Ogden Park at 8:30 AM to pick up my bib and aqua-blue t-shirt for the 3rd annual Englewood 5k. I was by myself and spent the 2 hours until race time reading, pretending I’m good at stretching, and watching the whole community turn out for selfies and hugs. It was equally heart warming and alienating for someone who showed up solo.

Come race time, everyone passed under the timing arch, jogging to the beat of the Legends Drumline, which is objectively the greatest running music ever created.

Continue reading “The Englewood Fairytale”

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Review: The Surround Me Tour

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Sweden has produced an abundance of talented individuals ranging from Tove Lo to Lykke Li to Avicii, and so on.

Considering my family originates from Sweden, I always take great pride in artists who share the same origins. The sense of connectedness makes me root for them that much more.

On October 21, I had the pleasure to see the indie-pop artist from Sweden, Léon, perform live at Chicago’s Lincoln Hall.

Continue reading “Review: The Surround Me Tour”

Jonah Fights the City Part 2 – Ain’t no love in the Heart of the City

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After surviving a United Airlines flight, Jonah and his much more likable brother in arms Owen find themselves in the middle of the urban jungle. With vigor in their hearts and easily stealable wallets in their loose pockets, the pair sally forth into the great unknown. Meanwhile, Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, and Gandalf the White must travel west in an effort to convince the Rohrrim Tribes to aid the Kingdom of Gondor in the coming war against the dark legions of Sauron.

The ride from the airport to the hotel was the first moment of levity I had had all day. Travel doesn’t really stress me out as much as keep me on my toes. Even during my residency at the airport, all I could think about was how I needed to ensure that the rest of my journey would go smoothly.

Even while on the plane I couldn’t relax, but that was for a number of reasons. Here is a comprehensive list of them.

  1. I, in all of my infinite wisdom and foresight, had forgotten that Spotify did not work well with airplanes. So my ride was going to be a tuneless one right out of the gate.
  2.  I had absolutely no idea how we were going to get from the airport to the hotel. I mean I figured we would just take an Uber, but then there was the question of how many shekels it would cost us.
  3. The couple sitting next to me on the plane were from Australia, which wouldn’t have been a problem if I hadn’t represented New Zealand in Model United Nations club earlier that week. I spent the whole ride praying to Lorde and Peter Jackson that they wouldn’t break my fragile, Kiwi legs.
  4. Once the plane started to descend, my ears found out that I had to cut part of their Christmas bonuses for that year, and decided that the best course of action was to put me through a skull crushingly intense pain.

Overall, three out of five stars.

I turned to Owen, who was taking footage of the rolling cityscape with the camera he had brought with him. I’m sure the rays of sunlight shining through the New York skyline were a very profound sight to behold. I wouldn’t know because I was checking Tinder.

It was at that point that I realized that Owen and I had never actually discussed how our film would do in the competition, so I brought it up. The fest had roughly all of the same categories as the Oscars, like best picture, screenplay, direction, etc. After some discussion, we decided that we had a fighting chance in most of the categories, going so far as to say that actually winning something was not too far off.

Our confidence would not have been as high if it hadn’t been for what had happened a couple weeks earlier. Continue reading “Jonah Fights the City Part 2 – Ain’t no love in the Heart of the City”

Jonah Fights the City Part 1 – Airport Man

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In October of 2017, amateur college sad man and garbage peddler Jonah Nink embarked on a country wide adventure to participate in the All American High School Film Festival. This is especially depressing considering the fact that Jonah was a college freshman at the time, literally breaking the first rule of the festival right out of the gate. This multi-part series is a highly hyperbolic, poorly written, and nonsensical version of his story.  

Call me Ishmael.

Don’t actually do that. That is not my name.

Nothing is more depressing than having to wake up at 3 AM. Normally when one wakes up, they expect the soft rays of morning sunshine to float down from heaven’s bosom and land tenderly on their cheek bones with the grace and precision of a South Korean DOTA champion.

This is not what happens when you wake up at 3 AM.  

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Support Your Female Artists

We all should know by now that award shows are absolute garbage. Something that should be held to recognize achievements and events within the music industry as a whole, ends up only going to the top precenters and completely disregards underground and/or independent artists. And not to mention, a large amount of the people behind the scenes of these shows are either racist or sexist. Or both.  

Frank Ocean showed his disapproval of award shows when he chose to abstain from the 2017 Grammy Award Show. Ocean said, “I think the infrastructure of the awarding system and the nomination system and screening system is dated. I’d rather this be my Colin Kaepernick moment for the Grammys than sit there in the audience.”

And I completely agree with his statement and the action he chose to make.

But even though I already know that award shows are a joke, I still couldn’t help but to be irked when the American Music Awards revealed their nominations today and presented a disappointing amount of female nominees.

Not a single female artist was nominated for the following categories:

  • Artist of the Year
  • Collab of the Year
  • Best Duo / Group
  • Best Pop Album
  • Tour of the Year
  • Video of the Year

There are so many incredible female artists, in the mainstream and underground music scene, who have been delivering an abundance of talent this year, but are going unrecognized. The lack of appreciation for these ladies in the simplest term is: frustrating.

Confident women expressing themselves is empowering and is something we need to pay more attention to.

With that being said, here are some female musicians I think everyone should check and support, because they truly deserve it:  

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Green Day: Wrigley Field

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Once upon a time, around 2009, in a place not so far called the United Center I attended my first concert. I was familiar with the band, but still had a lot to learn and many songs to hear in their 14 album discography.

Where better to fall in love than at a concert? Not with any one person specifically, but with the music, the experience, the energy of not only the performers but the crowd, my fellow music lovers. I was 11 years old when I first saw Green Day. Although the seats my brother and I were in were the farthest section from the stage, the smell of weed hovered, the phone camera quality sucked in 2009, and the noise of Billie Joe Armstrong singing into the mic overwhelmed me, this first concert laid the foundation for my love of concerts.

At that age I knew, just like I know now at 20, concerts were where I’d always feel most at home, no matter how small or big an arena was, if it was outside in wet grass, mud, or inside with seats and AC. Whether this feeling has to do with the artist performing or actual environment at a concert, I’m not sure.

Fast forward 9 years later: Wrigley Field, my third Green Day concert, and I’m still overwhelmed by the connections, love, and rage. Although it has been 8 years since that first concert, I can always expect a couple of things: a great experience with the crowd, drunk bunny opening the show and Green Day playing something for every fan.

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The setlist changes a bit over the years, accommodating their newest released songs and jamming in classics from their most popular albums. Green Day’s setlist was filled with songs ranging from their second album, Kerplunk (1991) to their latest, Revolution Radio (2016). As a hardcore Green Day fan the almost 3 hour show wasn’t enough, songs I loved like Amy from their 2012 album, Dos! still would never make it onto the setlist. However, for their longtime fans they played songs like 2,000 light years away from their second album, Kerplunk. And of course the classics for every Green Day fan: She, Welcome to Paradise, When I come around and Basketcase from Dookie (1994); American Idiot, St. Jimmy, Jesus of Suburbia, Holiday, and Boulevard of Broken Dreams from American Idiot (2004). Some other songs touched on in the 2 and a half hour set were: Hitchin A Ride and King For A Day from Nimrod (1997); Minority from Warning (2000); Mass Hysteria, East Jesus Nowhere and 21 Guns from 21st Century Breakdown (2009). They also played songs from their newest album Revolution Radio (2016): Still Breathing and Forever Now were some of my favorites. Everyone in the stadium held up their phone flashlights as songs like 21 guns played, the sight was enough for even the security crews to stop, stare and smile.

In Green Day’s four part documentary, Green Day: The Early Years (2017), “The separation between audience and the band, we weren’t used to that in our scene” Drummer Tre Cool says in response to how it felt playing Woodstock and Lollapalooza in 1994. “They were so far away, I felt like we weren’t connecting in some way,” Billie Joe adds. 23 years later, these same guys that were nervous playing a festival, are now playing stadiums as if it were a small club.

Green Day has been playing stadiums since the American Idiot era, but never Wrigley Field. This also wasn’t their first time playing a sports field, at the beginning of August they played the Oakland Coliseum, home of the Oakland Athletics.

“I never wanted to turn my back on the intimacy that you get from a crowd, I love playing arenas and I love playing stadiums, that shit is amazing but to this day we will always play venues where we can get as close as we can to the audience.” – Billie Joe Armstrong, Green Day: The Early Years (2017).

Even when playing a stadium like Wrigley Field, Green Day managed to interact with the audience every chance they got: bringing someone on stage to stage dive, handing the mic to someone in the crowd to sing, having EVERYONE sing along to “Hey Jude” by the Beatles, and “Satisfaction” by The Rolling Stones.

They also kept up with their little tradition of having one lucky fan play the guitar onstage. During the cover of “Knowledge” originally by Operation Ivy, Green Day pulls one lucky audience member on stage, “who knows how to play 3 chords?” Billie Joe asks, the lucky fan then plays the three chorded song on a guitar handed to them, at the end of the song Billie Joe points and says, “you get to keep that guitar.” The first time Green Day ever brought someone on stage to play with them was during the Insomniac Tour (4th album, 1995).

In Green Day Wrigley Field Press Conference In The Sound Lounge when asked if they ever thought they’d be playing Wrigley Field, Billie Joe joked he thought it’d be more likely to be playing shortstop than performing. The band also reminisced about how many cities they had to play in Illinois before being able to play Chicago, “because we had to play so many other cities before playing Chicago, it’s very near and dear to our hearts,” says Billie Joe.

After about 2 and 1/2 hours of an amazing Green Day show, it ended even better than it started, the beginning middle and end was nothing short of amazing. Ending with a small firework show that had everyone in Wrigley Field in awe, the red and white Confetti stamped with “Green Day” soon followed.

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A Working Spring

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Courtesy of Lost TV.

Three jobs and twenty one credit hours have kept me off of UIC Radio’s front page this semester, much to the dismay of my twelve readers (I ❤ you guys & gals). A busy spring also kept Nick V, Cheech, and me from sitting down in the same room together for about two months. When we finally found overlapping free time, we spent the better part of two hours animatedly talking about Syria, Chicago’s water, and the prison system. But between catching up and conversations eventually bleeding into politics, I managed to ask a few questions and listen to some phenomenal answers.

I wanted to interview the FreeFAM founders for a second time. Last fall, they’d impressed me with their business-minded approach to their genre. Without sacrificing individuality and independence, they seek to create a brand to support all kinds of artists. Coming from a city with a music culture that’s very “out-for-yourself,” their message is refreshing. FAM is in the name.

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Courtesy of Lost TV.

 

An obligatory catch-up is needed first, as these guys have not sat still since the last time they visited UIC Radio’s studio. They’ve been playing gigs, traveling, and working with producers like CB Mix, credited on Chance’s Coloring BookThey’re working with LRG to create clothing and Pat Banahan of Lost TV to make videos. The group just released a music video for Bless the Bottles, (my personal favorite so far) featuring the same BMW I8 King Louie and Vonmar used in their own video. They even played a show at College of DuPage, which only sounds mildly impressive until you learn COD won’t back anyone without a tax ID and business number. They even have a website. FreeFAM is officially in business.

On Tuesday, I asked Nick V and Cheech about branding. I wanted to know what audience FreeFAM would draw as a full-blown music label complete with t-shirts and dispensaries. Both brothers said “local” immediately. They don’t want to limit themselves to Chicago, but their focus is building up a platform to support all members of music production. Their circle includes engineers and videographers, animators, and even a few family members for legal counsel. The want anyone who’s drawn to an image of family, brothers, positive moves, and a platform that’s there to serve their clients. Cheech commented that “non-threatening artists” are what resonate in Chicago today.

 

Nick said he wants people with energy. “Energy to party, to help, to create.” He’s got a vision of FreeFAM as a charity and force for good in Chicago. We inevitably broke into ranting about senators and bills, but Nick had a ton to say about water quality. It was endearing and inspiring and had me walking home thinking how one could add water filters to a music label…But that’s beside the point.

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Courtesy of Lost TV.

I asked about brands that could “make or break” an artist. Lil Wayne and Cash Money were brought up, as was Future, who got in a legal battle with his manager and was forced to release two albums ahead of time so he could start making his own money. Some artists get caught promoting BS; Cheech brought up the Fyre Festival flop. But Jay-Z’s own streaming website was mentioned as a positive. “It all depends on if a brand will encourage or control you,” Nick told me. A label obviously wants a return on investment and will have to control an artist’s image if money is lost. So who’s got their label working for them? Cheech laughed at this thought and brought up Kanye. “His label has been taking so much money from his music. Someone’s been making 50% off all of his songs.”

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Photo courtesy of Lost TV.

Controlling the artist is beyond the aims of the Freedom Family. Both brothers explained respect for their artist is the only reason they’d sign someone, and there’s no need to control someone they respect. They don’t intend to cultivate a brand that interferes with music production or limits the evolution and development of an artist.

“At the end of the day, music is the most important. But music won’t be heard without branding.” Other groups have PR people to handle web pages, social media, and scheduling. But for FreeFAM, “It’s just me and Cheech,” Nick says. The work is taking a toll; Nick V’s been off social media and left with what sounds like carpal tunnel in his hands and a prescription for range-of-motion exercises. “Shouldn’t be constantly posting, anyway,” he admitted. I told him not to worry about it. “It’s always nice to hear from family.”

 

Have a Scien-tastic Day!

Note To Self

“this is an open diary. this gives my insides a voice through visuals and poetry; this is me spilled out on paper.”

Typically on this blog you’ll find album reviews and updates on everything new in the music scene, but for right now I would like to do something different and talk about a book.

Books and albums are pretty similar. They’re both a form of art, they both tell stories, and they both can be used as a mental crutch.

I’ve recently finished reading the new book, Note To Self, written by Connor Franta. Connor Franta is a YouTuber, New York Times bestselling author, entrepreneur, and a LGBTQ+ philanthropist. This is Connor’s sophomore book following his memoir, A Work In Progress.

Note To Self is a collections of poems, memories, thoughts, and essays that come from a deep and vulnerable place. Connor Franta allows readers to see the world from his perceptive as he opens up about love, heartbreak, and dealing with mental illness. Note To Self gives us an interior look into Connor’s life that cannot be seen online.

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This book is real. A lot of these pages I read with a heavy heart and truly could empathize with Connor. I found myself reading a line and thinking, ouch, that really hits close to home.”

But then there were the pages that left me feeling hopeful and inspired. They were reminders that I’m not alone with my feelings, and to always keep an open heart and an open mind.

Connor Franta wrote this book for himself (hence the title) as a way to reflect on his past few years. Through this self-reflection, Connor has opened a gateway for readers to come in and find their own meanings and to find comfort. Through the highs and the lows, this book made me feel something; it was something I could relate to and something I could find a sense of ease in.

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I highly recommend everyone picks up a copy of this book. It’s a great read, and it offers a little something for everyone. You can buy a copy of Note To Self Here.

I also had the pleasure to meet Connor Franta at the Chicago stop of his book signing. I will also be attending the Note To Self Tour in Milwaukee, which includes visuals from the book created by Connor, and a Q&A and discussion session. You can buy tickets for the tour Here.

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Troye Sivan Takes On Coachella

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The incredibly talented Australian pop star, Troye Sivan, surprised his fans with a surprise performance at the 2017 Coachella music festival.

Sivan joined DJ Martin Garrix on the Sahara Stage during his set to drop their new song together, “There For You.

This is the first piece of new music that we have gotten from Sivan since his 2015 debut album, Blue Neighbourhood, and we couldn’t be more excited about it.

Sivan has been hinting on his Twitter that a new album is in the works, and new music will be coming our way in the, hopefully, near future.

There For You” is a brilliant song with a beautiful message. It’s pop heavy and radio-ready, and while it may be a great song to bop to, the lyrics hold a lot in them.

“I got you, I promise

Let me be honest

Love is a road that goes both ways

When your tears roll down your pillow like a river

I’ll be there for you

But you gotta be there for me too”

Communication is the most important thing in any relationship. You cannot expect someone to always be there for you, if you cannot be there for them. Communication, and as stated in the song, love, goes both ways. One sided relationships are toxic and unfair and I cannot stress this enough.

There For You” is a song I feel like everyone can relate to at some point in life, and songs like this are perfect to find comfort in. Sweet and soft.

With that being said, I cannot wait to hear what Sivan has planned for his sophomore album.

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As a longtime fan of Troye Sivan (and a fan of music and talent in general,) it’s been an emotional ride watching Sivan go from posting quirky videos on YouTube, to preforming on the iconic Coachella stage.

It just goes to show that if you’re passionate about something, and you want your dream bad enough, hard work and dedication pays off, and living the life you’ve always dreamed of, is possible.