Music Monday! Concert Reviews – @TheRocketSummer “Zoetic Tour” in Phoenix/Santa Ana/San Francisco

Hey everyone!
Today’s Music Monday once again features my favorite band,  The Rocket Summer!
I’ll be covering Concert Reviews of the 3 “Zoetic Tour” shows I saw (Phoenix, Santa Ana, San Francisco) after the L.A. performance mentioned in a previous Music Monday. These will be done in more of a summary format, quick descriptions of the night as a whole rather than breaking everything down because with 3 Concerts to review, I’m going to struggle to keep this short!
Please keep reading to see which venue I liked best & watch the video for clips of the performances! Please Subscribe, Follow, Like, Share, & Comment on this post & the YouTube video!

1. Phoenix – May 10th – The Rebel Lounge
Parking is shenanigans here. The venue lot is SUPER small, so a majority of guests parked in the surrounding neighborhood. Luckily, there was plenty of parking, however there are NO street lights. I was thankful others arrived at the same time so I had people to walk in with for creeper safety reasons, but I did trip on the sidewalk about 3 times because I couldn’t see anything.
I really enjoyed the opening act, The Foxies. They were by far my favorite openers. Lead singer Julia Lauren is gorgeous & has this Gwen Stefani/Kesha/Lady Gaga kinda look/sound going on that is engaging to watch & enjoyable to listen to.
Bryce was amazing as always. He has a great sense of playfulness & connection with the crowd. He changed the lyrics to “FL, CA” to reference Arizona, something he usually does at shows when his songs reference specific states, & the crowd went wild to have that local touch. Being from California, I was a little bitter to have my home state get the boot, but I knew that seeing him in CA later would make me feel better!
The crowd at this show was not my favorite, but not the worst I’ve experienced. One group in particular was over the top distracting. At one point they were singing other TRS songs OVER Bryce talking – rude! The loudest girl had a beautiful voice so at least she sounded pleasant. I spoke with her after to compliment her voice & she was really sweet, but part of me still wanted to chastise her, because I’m 25 going on 86, haha!

2. Santa Ana – May 12th – The Observatory/Constellation Room


Just two days after seeing TRS in Arizona, I managed to find my way to a whole different state to see another show! The CR was my least favorite venue of the tour. It was $10 to park but the lot was full so you had to park several blocks away. I’m glad I had someone with me so I didn’t have to walk alone in the dark. The CR is a small room INSIDE The Observatory & there were two concerts going on with very distinct crowds & it was quite an interesting sight to see these two types of fans mix. My Chucks, no makeup, & jeans fit right in with my fellow TRS Family, but looked quite slovenly next to the full hair/make up, bandage dress wearing girls at the rap show! Security was INTENSE, they patted me down more than I’ve ever been, even at the airport.
We missed the opening act, arriving just in time to scoot to the front & wait a few minutes. Again, awesome performance from Bryce & the band. Although, he seemed to have some trouble engaging, but I blame that on the crowd. He kept trying to get us to clap along – we started clapping 20!! times, yes, I kept track. It was too much, almost awkward.
In addition to not loving the venue, I didn’t love this crowd. There were a handful of extremely intoxicated girls behind me that kept stumbling into me, yelling at Bryce to take his clothes off, & spilling their drinks on me to the point that I left the venue smelling like Jaeger. After one girl elbowed me in the head, she draped herself on my shoulder, slurred an apology, & began petting my hair – no thanks! One bright spot was getting to meet a couple my mom had met at the LA show. They were wonderful & have been TRS fans as long as I have & we had a lot in common. Those are the types of people I love to meet at shows, they’re the real TRS Family.

3. San Francisco – May 19th – Bottom of the Hill


Back to where it all started last November, good old San Francisco, at Bottom of the Hill. This is a great venue. I’m not sure if I feel that way because I’ve been there before so now I have some sense of familiarity, because they have amazing food, or because it’s in my hometown, kind of.
SF was easily the best show overall, again, maybe I’m feeling some sort of hometown pride, or maybe because it was the last show of the tour, but it was just epic. The crowd was awesome & supportive, not overly aggressive about what songs Bryce should play & I think that allowed him to feel more comfortable & perform differently. He played “Get Over It” from the newly released “Zoetic” album & I was excited to hear it live as it’s one of my favorites. He also jumped into the crowd more than he did at the other shows I attended which is always so much fun.
I think I mentioned this in my LA Review, but I only wanted to wait for him after the SF show because that was the first place we met so it was the perfect bookend to this tour. I had carefully thought out what I was going to say – no embarrassing quoting his own lyrics to him this time! Unfortunately I ended up having only a super small window of time & didn’t get to say hardly anything I wanted or ask any of the questions I had! Bleh. It’s okay, lesson learned! The short moment was really special, he remembered me from November, what I was wearing, where I had come from that day, & saw me in the crowd in LA. He also told me I had great hair, which I’m still way too excited about, haha! In the selfies we took, which you can see at the end of the YouTube video, he’s holding our hair together in a comparison of greatness!

One additional thing I want to mention a bit more depth, as I touched on it briefly in Phoenix & Santa Ana – my annoyance with the crowd. I had an amazing time at each & every one of these shows – mostly thanks to Bryce & the music. However, a disappointing common theme I found among the crowd was, what I felt to be, a general lack of respect. A majority of the obnoxious guests seemed to be first time TRS show attendees, but people need to shape up. I don’t mind screaming for requests, especially when he asks, but when he’s playing the opening to a song & you’re yelling “NO NOT THIS, PLAY ‘TV FAMILY’, ‘TV FAMILY’ BRYCE!!!!!”, you are being rude & inconsiderate not only to him, but to fans that WANT to hear the song. It’s not all about you. This isn’t a private show. You probably think I’m being a grumpy old lady, but as I’ve mentioned, these are relatively small, intimate venues so it’s super distracting to be dealing with these chicks riding the Hot Mess Express when you’re there to focus on the music & have this spiritual experience – which is what TRS shows are for me. Also, I think it’s completely classless to yell at anyone, but especially a married man whose wife is in the same room, to take his clothes off & “Show Me Everything You’ve Got” – an innuendo based on one of his song titles.

Overall, seeing 4 shows total of the “Zoetic Tour” was quite an interesting experience. I naively thought going to 4 shows was going to make me special in some way, but I talked to at least a handful of people that had gone to the same shows as me plus others. Someone even traveled from Brazil to see him in SF – that’s dedication! I’m sure it’s obvious, but I highly recommend listening to The Rocket Summer & going to the concerts.

Huge thanks to the entire crew & band for a magical tour – shout out to Tyler for giving me a set list in SF! Teddy for putting up with my shenanigans via Instagram, you owe me a selfie, haha! & Tara, for approaching me & remembering me from the November show, it makes me feel so special to know that I made even a small impact on someone that’s made an impact on me as well. Please hire me 🙂
Of course, thank you to Bryce. Thank you for this music & the experience of these shows. As I mentioned, your music is a spiritual experience for me, & you probably find that somewhat blasphemous, but don’t worry. I know you’re not perfect or God like, that’s what’s important. You have bad days & things make you mad & you want to change, yourself, other people, the world, but you also find the beauty in things. If I was ever as talented as you, I would want to make this music, I would want to spread the same message & give people the same hope you’ve given me, all of us in the TRS Family. I have struggled the last few years, & especially the last 6 months. TRS music has always been my go to for inspiration, for cheering up, or to get out some angst. The last few months of having these shows to look forward to has kept me going & given me things to look forward to because I know that for one night, I will be in a room filled with people that look to your music for whatever reason & we all have that connection. Like you say, even when you’re alone, you’re not alone. Oh crap, I did end up quoting his lyrics to him 😉

I can’t wait to see what the future holds for TRS & in turn, for myself. I think of how different my life was when he released the album previous to “Zoetic” & I’m excited to see how things will change when the next album is released. Maybe I’ll make it to 5 shows next time! What do you think? Have you ever followed your favorite band/musician on tour? What other music should I be listening to? Please let me know in the comments & don’t forget to Subscribe/Like/Share!

Sunday Book Club! Straight From the Source by Kim Osorio

Hello again!
Today’s Sunday Book Club Review is “Straight from the Source” by Kim Osorio.

Initial Thoughts:
I don’t remember how I came across this book, but I was intrigued at the idea of learning more about a woman’s role in the Journalism/Entertainment Industry, especially in a position of power. I don’t really know anything about Hip Hop music/culture, so I wasn’t sure I’d understand the story…keep reading to see my thoughts!

Plot:
“SFTS” tells the real life story – according to her – of Kim Osorio & how she works her way up from unpaid Internships to becoming the Editor in Chief of her favorite magazine, The Source. Before reading this I was not familiar with The Source, but apparently it was considered the “Hip Hop Bible”, so working there was a huge career builder, & being in charge was a huge accomplishment. Along the road to fame, Osorio runs into some complications – not being taken seriously because she’s a woman, being disrespected by her male peers/superiors, & dodging questions & assumptions from others about her romantic relationship with certain celebrities. Eventually Osorio sues The Source for sexual harassment & this story is an exposé of what happened during her time there.

Characters:
Kim Osorio – At first I related to Kim while she struggled & jumped from unpaid Internship to unpaid Internship. I sympathized with her because she’s so passionate about Hip Hop & Journalism & wants to make a career out of her passions, but just can’t seem to make the right connections. I know that struggle! However, I became annoyed with her constant name dropping of celebrities & talk of how well connected she was. Most of the story is about Osorio denying that she’s a groupie, but after a while it sort of felt like, “she doth protest too much”. She talks about her relationships with big name celebrities like Nas & 50 Cent to the point that I wonder if they were okay with this book being published. She’s certainly entitled to a relationship that makes her happy, but something about Osorio’s attitude makes it seem like she’s just trying to get her 15 minutes of fame.

Quotes:
– Pg 71: “Sorry, but I didn’t recognize random white chicks who wanted to be down with Hip Hop”
– Pg 272: “I wonder why the hip-hop circle is so damn judgmental” – both quotes from Kim Osorio
This is but one quote in a sea of moments where I felt alienated & judged by Osorio because I wasn’t “down” with Hip Hop. Judgement is part of the reason I don’t really like Hip Hop or the Music Industry culture in general. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE music itself, but I hate that each genre is a clique. Reading Osorio’s judgement made me feel bad because she’s missing the opportunity to share her passion for Hip Hop with a varied audience that might find the same love she has. Then she goes & says that she doesn’t understand why the Industry is so judgmental, she’s part of the problem! Hypocrisies like this are why I’m not a fan of Osorio.
– Pg 260: “…job security was always a [seious] issue…” (I added brackets to point out the spelling error)
I found at least 4 typos along with several missing commas or periods. She was the EIC of a major magazine & couldn’t edit her own book properly!?
– Pg 272: “…I will never be able to recover my reputation…although the girls & I in the network can, as one of my friend jokes, walk up to so many men in the industry & embarrass them by holding our hands up in front of them as a measure of how big or small we know they are…I will never be able to shake my image in the eyes of some people as the girl who slept with a bunch of rappers” – Kim Osorio
This quote continues to confuse me in regards to how Osorio wants to be seen. Sometimes she’s a hardworking, powerful woman that had sexist lies told about her, & other times she says things like this which make her seem like the groupie she keeps denying she is.

Overall:
As mentioned in my “Initial Thoughts” I don’t really have an interest in Hip Hop culture so there were moments where I had little to no idea who or what Osorio was talking about. It wasn’t bad enough that I couldn’t understand the overall story, but there were details that a more educated reader would have found interesting, but were over my head. Osorio’s writing style is interesting, there’s heavy swearing & use of slang. I was intrigued by this story, but Osorio’s hypocrisy became too much to keep track of. Besides the constant “I have sex with lots of Industry men/I’ve only had a few relationships with Industry men” story line, there was another plot point where she talks about how she was forced to make decisions for The Source that she didn’t believe were right & it made her uncomfortable because her name was being signed on work she didn’t think was good. Then at the end of the book she talks about how the work you do speaks louder than the place you work, so she’s lucky to always have her work at The Source to show her skills. Didn’t you spend a majority of the book talking about how your bosses forced you to make bad decisions that you didn’t agree with!? So what’s the part of your work that you’re proud of? I always felt like I was missing something or getting tripped up by Osorio’s BS.

Rating: Originally rated B, but while writing this review lowered to a C
At first I gave this book a B rating because it was a quick read that kept me entertained. However, while writing this Review, I couldn’t wash away the bad taste this book left in my mouth. I think this story was meant to be read specifically by Osorio’s peers that had heard the rumors & were judging her. It was her chance to clear the air/cover her ass/name names/kiss & tell, basically one big mass defense of her actions while at The Source, but ultimately unless you were part of the story or the culture, why would you care? I wouldn’t recommend this book unless you are familiar with The Source, Hip Hop culture, or the study of Feminism. There are a lot of Feminist plot points that I can see making interesting discussions in a Literature/Gender/Music Industry class or for personal study if that’s your passion.

Have you read or heard of The Source? Have you read this book or other Industry Autobiographies like this?  If so, what are your thoughts? Please feel free to share your thoughts & book suggestions with me in the comments below!

The next Sunday Book Club is May 29th & the book is “The Journal of Best Practices: A Memoir of Marriage, Asperger Syndrome, and One Man’s Quest to Be a Better Husband” by David Finch.

Music Monday! Album & Concert Review – The Rocket Summer “Zoetic”

Hello again!
For today’s Music Monday I’m going to be talking about my favorite band, The Rocket Summer. I previously discussed TRS in November when I went to the “Returning West” Tour at Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco, click here to read that blog post. On April 12th, I went to the “Zoetic” Tour at The Troubadour in Los Angeles – the following post will partially be a Concert Review of that experience with some video footage.

I’m also going to review “Zoetic”, the new Album. As I’ve never done an Album Review before, I’m not exactly sure how to format it. For my first attempt I’m going to write a basic summary of my thoughts because I don’t want this post to be TOO long with the Concert Review attached as well. Writing could get too lengthy, in the future I may do this all via video, but we’ll see. Let me know what you would prefer in the comments below!!

After reading the reviews, if you’re interested in purchasing any of the songs/albums, they’re all available for free on Spotify or of course, you can buy the album on Itunes or through The Rocket Summer website. I highly recommend buying through the website because they have a bunch of really unique deals, for example, I got an actual CD – autographed! – & a digital download for about $15/$20.

UPDATE 5/2/16: After many more listens & getting these lyrics stuck in my head, I’m updating my Album Review to 4 stars. Bryce’s passion for music & the subjects he sings about are hard to deny & infectious. Perhaps there’s something to be said rating-wise about an album that takes a few listens to connect to, but I’m sticking with 4 stars. I’m still saying I don’t necessarily connect with ALL of these songs lyrically, but the music is just SO good. Give “Emergency Landings”, “Sharks”, & “White Fireworks” a listen or two or five or 50 RIGHT NOW!

Album Review – 11 songs, overall – 3 out of 5 stars
I think I’m too biased. I fell in love with The Rocket Summer as an alternative pop semi-Jesus loving kind of sound & lyrics. “Zoetic” is DIFFERENT. I’m happy for Bryce, that he’s getting the chance to expand his horizons & follow his heart – as happy as you can be for someone you don’t know, haha!
I enjoyed the album from a musical perspective. Bryce tapped into ALL his talents in terms of the music arrangement, vocal range, & style. “Zoetic” definitely has an edge to it, a harsher, angrier style that fans haven’t seen before, & I appreciate it. It’s always nice to see your favorite artist grow & show different sides of themselves. I’ll be adding most of these songs to my Gym Playlist, a place TRS songs don’t usually go.
Unfortunately I feel like so much work into the music that the lyrics were an after thought. Some of the songs are super repetitive which I’m used to hearing with pop songs on the radio, but is not usually Bryce’s style.
Overall I enjoyed this album because as always you can tell Bryce is super passionate & he puts so much effort into his work. I have to give him props for that even if I wasn’t able to connect with the lyrics this time around. In my perfect world, a future album will include lyrics in the style of previous album “Do You Feel” with music in the style of “Zoetic”.
Favorite Tracks: “Cold War”, “Same Air”, “Get Over It”, “FL, CA”


Concert Review
The Venue – I’d never been to The Troubadour in Los Angeles before, but was pleased with the venue. Parking was convenient, $12-$15 for Valet, & the area seemed safe. There’s two rooms, the first is super small off the left & has the bathrooms, a bar, & the merch table. That area was super squishy crowded, but the main room was pretty spacious – or maybe there just weren’t that many people there. There were seats available on an upper level & another bar in the main room. The drinks were fairly expensive though, $9 for a Jack & Coke. It might look like a dive, but don’t forget you’re in LA. One cool new (to me) thing about this show was that they were selling Giving Keys that said Zoetic on them. Giving Keys is a charity that employs those transitioning out of homelessness to stamp empowering words on keys. The idea is that you’re supposed to buy a key with a word that means something to you, wear it until you feel like you’ve accomplished a related goal, then pass the key on to someone who needs the empowerment from that word. I’ve wanted a Giving Key ever since I first heard about the company, actually I talk about them in Vlog #2!, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity to buy one.

The People – As I said in my previous TRS Concert Review, the crowd at these shows are pretty respectful, mostly women or couples. There was an overly enthusiastic guy standing right next to me that was kind of weirding me out, but he wasn’t being aggressive so eh, to each their own! One thing that surprised me was the amount of children! I’ve seen teenagers before, I’ve been a teenager at a TRS show (!!), but these were kids younger than 10. It seemed like a weird parenting decision to allow kids out late at night in such a loud setting, but what do I know about raising kids!?

The Performance – The music was harsher than I’ve ever heard, but that’s the nature of “Zoetic”. It seemed like there were a few technical issues, a couple times the music sounded off & Bryce looked off stage at the tech & looked sort of irritated/frustrated. There was definitely one problem where his guitar wasn’t sounding right or something & he looked for the tech – & nobody came. He kept looking around & was holding out the guitar while trying to continue singing, but no one came. Bryce did his best to stay professional & ultimately it was kind of funny, a moment that showed a real human side to the show, but was probably stressful for him. As you’ll see in the video, Bryce brought a Fan on stage to play Cello during “Never Knew” – a VIP experience he’s offering on his website. I couldn’t hear one note of the Cello, I felt bad. My mom was sitting in the upstairs seating & said she heard it & it was great, so I’m not sure if there was a sound issue, or maybe that just wasn’t the best venue to use a Cello..?

Final Verdict: Obviously amazing, awesome, magical! I didn’t wait for Bryce to come out after the show because I’d been at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (!!!!) all day + had to drive back to Orange County, so I was ready to get going. I have plans to see him THREE more times, PHX Rebel Lounge, SNA Constellation Room/Observatory, & SF Bottom of the Hill. I will probably wait for him in SF because that’s the first place I met him & that’s the last stop on the “Zoetic” Tour, so it’ll be a nice bookend. Of course, if you like TRS I definitely recommend seeing him live. There’s not a lot of time left, but click here to see if he’s playing near you!

What do you think? For those of you that hadn’t heard of TRS before, did I make you a fan!? If you’re going to any of the shows I’ll be at, let me know in the comments below – I’d love to meet up! Please remember to SUBSCRIBE/LIKE/COMMENT/SHARE to my YouTube & this blog, thanks for reading 🙂

Sunday Book Club! Helen Keller in Love by Rosie Sultan

Hello again!
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts this month, I’m somewhat revamping the blog in terms of what content you see & when you see it. I usually do random “Book Reviews”, but as I’m now trying to give myself & my readers a more reliable schedule, I’m renaming those posts – “Sunday Book Club”. You’ll be getting a book review every other Sunday & I’ll try to tell you what the next Book Review will be so you can read it beforehand. Well – that’s the plan if I can keep up! Also, please hit the FOLLOW button to get email updates when I create new posts 🙂

Get comfy & keep reading to see my thoughts on “Helen Keller in Love” by Rosie Sultan. I thought a book about love (…kind of) would be perfect for February. I hope you all had a great Valentine’s Day & hopefully you have a better love life than Helen Keller…

Initial Thoughts:
I found this book at the $1 Store of all random places. I’ve found surprisingly good books here before & the reviews were positive so I decided to give it a chance. I knew nothing about it, other than it was Historical Fiction with a bit of Romance – obviously. I was intrigued at the idea of someone taking the life of a famous woman & imagining what shenanigans she would’ve gotten into, especially since Keller is often thought of as a child hero or incapable of living a “real” adult life.

Plot:
“Helen Keller in Love” is about exactly what it sounds like – Helen Keller’s love life. Specifically, her forbidden love affair with her temporary tutor Peter Fagan. Fagan steps into the famous Annie Sullivan’s tutoring shoes when she’s diagnosed with tuberculosis. Keller & Fagan fall in love very quickly Keller’s mother & Sullivan forbidding the romance, among other odds. The story follows their relationship, gives some background on Keller’s life, & explains how even with this great love…she still ends up alone. I noticed there were Helen Keller facts/stories that I remember learning in school that were changed in the book. The author, Rosie Sultan, supposedly did a ton of research while writing this, so I’m not sure if she took artistic liberties or if maybe what I learned in school has since been determined untrue…? I don’t want to spoil anything more, so I’ll leave it at that!

Characters:
Helen Keller – Most people admire Keller for her hard work & determination to overcome her disabilities in a time when the rest of the world didn’t understand her & we didn’t have the technology to help as we do now. With that being said, it’s almost uncomfortable to see this other side to her personality. She is extremely man hungry & eager to break the rules. I understand she must have felt very sheltered, lonely, & misunderstood, but she acts like a bratty teenager trying to be a rebel, hang out with the bad boys, & get into trouble. She’s the good girl trying way too hard, she’s Sandy trying to fit in with the Pink Ladies – sometimes you just have to know your place & strengths. Some people are meant for that rebel kind of life, & some are meant to walk the straight & narrow. Again, I guess it’s understandable given her situation but my god, it’s pretty annoying.
Peter Fagan – I’ve never heard of Fagan before, so I have no idea what his real characteristics are reported to be by history. In Sultan’s story, he’s a bad guy. I can’t give too many details because I don’t want to spoil anything. I will say this, if you’ve ever heard the sayings/concepts of, “People will tell you who they are. Just listen.” or “If someone tells you, ‘I’m a jerk’, even if it’s as a joke – they are telling you who they are!” That sums up Fagan. He told Keller the kind of guy he was several times, & she even admits that she didn’t listen.

Quotes:
– Pg 53: “With Helen, I have found someone who will love me completely – and can never leave.” – Annie Sullivan
CREEPY, but that is the nature of Sullivan & Keller’s relationship. Sullivan was so emotionally dependent on Keller, it ultimately crippled their relationship – in this story.

Overall:
While I didn’t love the portrayal of most of the characters, I found the story entertaining, like a bad soap opera. I’m curious as to why the author chose to write the ending the way she did, although, it may have been based on fact. I appreciated Sultan’s supposed huge amount of research but it was kind of lost on me because I don’t know enough about Keller to separate most of the fact from fiction. It would be too easy for people to take this book & assume everything is fact – unfortunately I’m not sure how to remedy that without people taking more of an independent interest in Keller.

Rating: C
I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this book. It earns points because I appreciate the research that went into it, & it wasn’t horribly written, but overall it was somewhere along the lines of a trashy beach novel. Not a ton of substance, just a portrayal of a great woman in history reduced to a horny, whiny, crybaby. If you’re interested in the characters, or enjoy being a sympathetic shoulder to cry on for your friends, maybe you’ll be able to sympathize with Keller, but I couldn’t.

Have you read or even heard of “Hellen Keller in Love”?  If so, what are your thoughts? How did you feel about the way Keller was portrayed? Please feel free to share your thoughts & book suggestions with me in the comments below!

The next Sunday Book Club is March 6th & the book is “ROOM” by Emma Donoghue.

Music Monday! Concert Review – The Rocket Summer “Returning West” Tour at Bottom of the Hill

Hello everyone!
This week’s Music Monday is kind of a mouthful! Click on the video below to watch a few clips from The Rocket Summer “Returning West” Tour at Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco! Then continue reading to see the full review of the Concert. Please remember to Subscribe/Follow, Share, Comment, & Like both the YouTube channel & this blog! Thanks!

The Rocket Summer has been my favorite band for about 10 years now. Although, calling it a “band”, might not be the right word. While the name sounds like a group of musicians, The Rocket Summer is the solo project of musician Bryce Avary. He’ll occasionally feature musician friends, or his wife Tara, but for the most part Avary does everything from writing the music/lyrics, to singing all the parts, & playing ALL the instruments. He’s extremely talented & it’s really fun & interesting to watch him perform live. I try to make it to every show in my area & I think in the 10 years I’ve been a fan, I’ve only missed one tour because I was super sick. I almost missed his SF appearance due to work, but luckily I made it…keep reading to see what happened!

The Venue – I’d never been to Bottom of the Hill before, but I’d heard really good things. I was working nearby at the W Hotel at the time & wasn’t going to get off work until 2 AM. I was super upset I was going to miss the show but luckily, fate stepped in & I got off work early. I jumped in an Uber & raced over to try to catch at least some of the show. As I was so late, the guy at the door was nice enough to not charge me entry. Sometimes concert staff can be hit or miss in terms of “Hospitality”. One time a stranger passed out next to me at a show & I couldn’t get any of the staff or security to help us for a few solid minutes! I was grateful people were awesome right off the bat. BOTH is a smaller venue, a typical dive/hole in the wall. There were maybe 50 to 100 people there & it was squishy. However, this is the kind of show where you want to be right up front, so squishy-ness is expected. A random, but important note, I appreciated that there were several well placed wall outlets. It’s always nice to know you have a way to charge your phone where you won’t be creating a hazard for others/yourself.

The People – I have a love/hate relationship with TRS fans. The crowd is mostly young females often times in packs, sometimes with their parents or reluctant boyfriends. Their attitude can range from teeny bopper excitement with shrill cries of “I LOVE YOU BRYCE!!!!” ringing through the air (uhm he’s married, his wife works the merch table, calm down) to disgruntled punk/scene girls with wild colored hair, many facial piercings/tattoos to some genuinely cool people. I, of course, fall into that last category, haha! This crowd was pretty neutral, but I’ve been in crowds where girls were pushing each other to the point that it was distracting me from the show & I’ve also met people I really bonded with & am friends with on Social Media to this day, years later. I think it depends on your attitude as well. If you’re there looking to push people & be disrespectful to other concertgoers, you might run into some backlash. If you’re there to just chill & enjoy the music, you’ll have a good time.

The Performance – While his music style might not be for everyone, Bryce is super talented! As I mentioned before, he plays all the instruments on his albums. For a concert however, he’ll usually enlist the help of a “touring band”. One of my favorite parts of a TRS show is the “Solo Jam”. Bryce plays one instrument, records/loops the playback, plays another instrument, records/loops the playback, etc showing the process of how he usually plays everything & creates the songs on his own. I’ve always found this really fascinating & I enjoy that he chooses to share the process with the fans so we have a better understanding of how he does what he does. As the new album “Zoetic” had/has not been released, the “Returning West Tour” was like a warm up tour. Bryce played his greatest hits, and of course, “Same Air”, his newest single. I love TRS shows because I get so inspired seeing someone with passion for their craft & how they have used that craft to bring together people from all walks of life. Another really awesome aspect of TRS shows is that Bryce usually comes out after the show to meet the fans. In all the years I’ve been going to his concerts I’ve never met him! I was determined to make it happen this time, especially because I knew I’d be writing this post. I ended up waiting just about an hour after the show & it was well worth the wait. I completely embarrassed myself & acted like a total fangirl quoting his own song lyrics to him, haha, I’m a little bit ashamed. It’s all good though, he was super nice & I felt totally appreciated & welcome. I never felt at all rushed even though there were other fans waiting to talk to him. We took SEVERAL selfies trying to find the right lighting & he autographed a napkin – even making sure to spell my name correctly! All in all, it was a concert I’ll always remember.

The Final Verdict – Obviously, I had an amazing time. I’m sorry the video isn’t longer so you can get a better idea of what the show was like, but I was grateful to see as much as I did. I already have plans to see Bryce perform again in April for the “Zoetic” Tour & you can bet I will be doing a recap of that as well 🙂 If you’re interested in attending a TRS show click here to see if he’s playing near you!

I hope you enjoyed this Review & video. I wanted to leave you with an “official” piece of TRS music so please check out the video below, “200,000” – one of my favorite songs! This video gives you a good idea of how Bryce puts the songs together himself, plus his wife Tara is in it!
Please leave me a note in the Comment section & let me know…have you ever heard of The Rocket Summer? What kind of music do you like – what should I check out next? Thanks for reading!

Concert Review! Britney Spears “Piece of Me” Tour at Planet Hollywood Las Vegas

Hey everyone!
As I mentioned in my last post, I’m somewhat changing what will be showcased here & how/when. I’m working towards having content posted every day & with that being said…
Welcome to “Music Monday” – each Monday I will (try to) have some sort of music related post, wether it’s a Concert or Album Review, talking about music I like, or “performing” – if I can work up the nerve!

Anyway, this post has been a long time coming, sorry for the wait!
This is a recap of my experience at the Britney Spears “Piece of Me” Tour at AXIS in Planet Hollywood Las Vegas! Due to copyright issues I’m not sure how long this video will remain up on YouTube – so watch now before it potentially gets taken down!
A few months ago I was talking to my best friend about what to do for Halloween & the idea of going to Vegas came up. She said, “I’ll go – but only if we see Britney!”
At the time, I was not that enthusiastic because I had heard nothing but horrible things about Ms. Spears’ Vegas Tour. It was over priced, she can barely keep up with her back up dancers, & she doesn’t sing live. Being poor/just recently employed I was not looking forward to spending money on something like that. However, with my friend’s excitement coupled with the fact that it was Halloween – I was all set to at least get glammed up & see what Vegas had to offer. In a turn of events I didn’t anticipate – I was pleasantly surprised by my “Piece of Me” Tour experience! Click on the video below to watch some clips from the show & keep reading below to see my thoughts on the experience!

Be warned – this video will not load in certain countries or on mobile devices due to copyright issues!!

The Venue – AXIS is amazing! It’s a smaller venue, I’ve definitely walked by it several times during past Vegas visits & never even noticed it. Our seats were great & somewhat reasonable for how close we were. I would be willing to return to this venue & pay more to sit up closer, even just a few rows, because it’s definitely worth it. Before heading to the seating area, there was a museum like display of Britney’s famous costumes that you could take pictures with & learn little fun facts about. Of course, they were also selling a copious amount of merchandise & alcohol – these items are pricey! You don’t necessarily have to spend your money though…depending on how much pride you have. We stayed a bit after the concert ended to take pictures & noticed that several people had (drunkenly) left their souvenir cups behind. An Usher encouraged us to take them home & wash them, obviously, because they were just going to get thrown away. Woo hoo, free stuff!
One negative thing I will say is that we kept seeing ads for a “Britney Spears After Party” at Drai’s, but we couldn’t find any other information. Did it cost money? Did you have to be on a Guest List? What time did it start/end? etc, none of that was answered & we didn’t feel like going on an adventure that might not be successful, so we didn’t even attempt it.

The People – The other concert goers were SUPER friendly, like, invade your space/come up & talk to you loudly type of friendly. This is probably due to the fact that they were some combination of drunk/high/excited. 99.9% of people were in Britney related costumes & I’m not sure if that’s because, they were paying homage to Britney, it was Halloween, we were in Vegas, or again, a combination of all three. We were approached by several people & pulled into group pictures with strangers, but it was all good fun! The crowd was a melting pot of age/race/gender/sexual preference/couples/friends/Bachelorette Party/Girl’s Night Out/Mother-Daughters etc. Everyone we encountered was polite, but if you can’t handle lots of loud, rowdy people, this wouldn’t be a good fit for you – but if that’s the case, most likely any concert wouldn’t be a good fit for you.

The Performance – WOW! I was blown away. The props, setting, costumes, back up dancers, everything, was over the top & awesome. It was exactly what you would expect from Britney Spears & Las Vegas. To address my earlier concerns, does she sing live?…I really don’t think so. Did she have a hard time keeping up with her back up dancers?…Sometimes, occasionally she stopped dancing altogether & just did sexy poses & threw her hair around while they did the bulk of the work. Bottom line – I’ve seen her do better performances in her “youth”, but I’ve also seen her look like way more of a trainwreck. I was surprised by how inspired I was by watching this show. I went into this experience thinking about how I’d be watching this empty headed, sexed up, washed up Pop star attempt to relive her glory days, but it wasn’t like that. It was a well done tribute to a woman that has worked her ass off to make a name for herself in the Entertainment industry. Yes, she’s definitely had some bumps along the way, but that’s life, especially when you live in the public eye. Just thinking about the physical aspects of the show, that’s all her! She may seem like a robot in interviews, but those abs…that’s on her! That’s hard work! Somewhere in there, she still wants to work hard to be the Pop star she used to be – or is working towards becoming someone new. To me, that’s really inspiring, after everything she’s been through, she’s still getting up & working towards new goals.
I will warn you though, this is not really a concert – it’s a Vegas show. Some of her songs are mashed up/remixed/cut short – so don’t expect to hear the classics exactly as they were originally recorded.

The Final Verdict – Like I said, I’m not even a huge Britney fan, so I was pleasantly surprised by my experience & would gladly see another Britney Spears concert/show – if the venue/price were right! If you can, I would definitely recommend seeing her show in Vegas. I was under the impression “Piece of Me” ended in January to make way for Jennifer Lopez’s tour. However, if you go on Ticketmaster you can still buy “Piece of Me” tickets until February. So maybe there’s still a chance? If you’re at all a fan of Britney, dance music/big party scene, or 90’s pop culture icons, this is a show you won’t want to miss!

Let me know in the comments, have you ever seen Britney in concert? What other concerts would you recommend I go see? Do you have any thoughts about the video posted above? Thanks for reading 🙂

Movie Review! PAN

Hi y’all, today I’m going to be reviewing PAN – the Peter Pan prequel film that came out this weekend.

I’ll keep this plot description brief, although, please be cautious as there will be spoilers down below. The film tells the story of how Peter Pan came to Neverland and met his famous band of Lost Boys, Captain Hook, Tinker Bell, & Tiger Lily.

Keep reading to see my likes, dislikes, final thoughts, & rating of this film! Be warned – SPOILERS!!!
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Likes:
– Some of the writing/plot points were creative in a subtle way that was perfect for a family friendly film. There were a few instances where the writers created a sort of parallel universe between Neverland and the “real world” which was set during WWII. One example; Peter lives at an orphanage & boys have started to disappear. One character says he hopes they’ve escaped to Canada. You eventually find out they’re being sold by the orphanage to Neverland pirates. In real life during WWII, children were stolen by/sold to Nazi’s or were sent to other countries by their families to escape. These subtle references to that time period would go over the heads of most kids, but adds another layer to the story for those familiar with history. Another way they made things more family friendly was, rather than showing a bloody massacre when the Neverland tribespeople are killed during a fight scene, they explode into a mist of bright colored powder.
– References to source material included lines such as, “To die will be an awfully big adventure”, references to Peter crowing, minor characters such as Nibs & “the twins” who are important Lost Boys in the source material, a few important scenes involving shadows – a reference to the importance Peter’s shadow plays in the source material, a scene with a Neverland Bird’s nest, and a clever line at the end of the film when Peter asks Captain Hook if they’ll always be friends and he says, “Of course, what could go wrong?”. The line was humorous yet ironic, as most viewers know they go on to become enemies, but more importantly, seemed to be setting things up for a sequel.
– There were 3 big animation sequences that were amazing & reminded me of “The Deathly Hallows” scenes from Harry Potter. Overall, the visual effects were stunning, yet dramatic – some might find them cheesy, but I enjoyed them.

Dislikes:
– I don’t know anyone else that experienced this, but I found the accents extremely difficult to understand in the beginning.
– Super slow, kept waiting for something big/exciting to happen, especially between Pan & Hook.
– Garrett Hedlund’s portrayal of Hook felt extremely forced. With that deep voice & disjointed way of speaking, it seemed like a bad impersonation of The Joker or Indiana Jones. This was the first time I’ve seen him perform so I’m not sure if that’s his style or that’s what the director wanted. Either way, it didn’t work for me.
– Tiger Lily, a character that was originally written & is typically portrayed as Native American, was played by a Caucasian actress. I think they should’ve stayed true to the source material & not made the character Caucasian.
– Not a fan of the musical numbers. At first it was cool to hear modern music, but they didn’t include enough & the few songs felt out of place. They either should’ve gone for it or left them out all together.
– Very little about this film felt original. As the film progressed I was thinking to myself, “Harry Potter, Pinocchio, Star Wars, Stardust” etc, etc. I’m not talking about the THEME of the stories aka Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero’s Journey” but actual plot points felt lifted from other stories.
– Why did people grow old on Neverland?!?!!?!?
– There was a lot left unexplained. I feel like they only wrote this film to create/gauge interest & then planned a sequel that would delve into the meat of the story. However, I doubt there will be a sequel.

Final Thoughts & Rating:
– I really, really wanted to love this film. Peter Pan has a huge place in my heart. I love the story, the musical, the Disney film, & the 2003 film – but overall I was disappointed in PAN. I feel like they missed the point of the Peter Pan legend, or at least, the way I see it. Peter isn’t a hero. He’s a bratty little boy that doesn’t want to grow up because he doesn’t want responsibility. He would never want the responsibility given to him in the film – he wants “always to be a little boy & to have fun”, yes, I just quoted the source material, I told you I love Peter Pan. Nothing is real to him, there’s no consequences. When confronted with death he says, “to die will be an awfully big adventure”. Everything is a game, he’s just moving from one wild adventure to the next. I’ve always seen Peter as a warning. Yeah, being a kid & having wild adventures is great, but eventually you have to grow up or you’ll miss out on the rest of life – & the rest of life is pretty great too! Wild adventures don’t stop because you grow up, they just change – & usually involve alcohol, haha! If you can’t change/grow up, the best part of the adventures – your friends – will leave you behind & you end up alone, like Peter does in the source material when Wendy leaves Neverland & takes all the Lost Boys with her. I understand this film was showing us Peter before he becomes “Peter Pan”, so he has yet to turn into the famous character. However, in a film about how a character gets his start…they don’t really explain how he gets there! If you have any feelings at all for Peter Pan, go see this just for the heck of it, but don’t expect too much other than great visuals & the occasional clever reference.
My Rating: C

Did you see PAN? If so, do you agree with my review? If you’re planning on seeing it, please leave me a comment after & let me know what you think! Thanks for reading 🙂