Announcement! Grad School

Happy December!

I can’t believe 2016 is almost over – thank goodness! It’s been a weird year for all of us it seems, so let’s hope 2017 brings some much needed positive change. Speaking of which…I posted about something on social media earlier – @MissAl_Leigh on Twitter & Instagram – that I also wanted to mention here.

I have been accepted to Cal State Fullerton’s Graduate School where I will earn my Master’s Degree in Communication Studies with an emphasis in Tourism & Entertainment!

I’m really nervous for this new adventure, but I’m excited to be going back to SoCal. While it seems like I would be even busier, I anticipate having MORE time to spend on the blog/vlog as I will only be in school two days a week with no job YET. I’m sure that will change as I find work & school picks up, but we’ll climb the hills & valleys together as always 🙂

Thank you for the continued support & stay tuned for upcoming vlogs like Food Friday & a Winter Haul! As always, please FOLLOW, COMMENT, SHARE, & LIKE!

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Music Monday! Harry Potter in Concert – Hollywood Bowl

Hello all!
Today’s Music Monday is going to be a quick recap of Harry Potter in Concert at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles.
HB occasionally puts on these Special Concerts where they show a movie & have a orchestra play the score live. Previously, they showed “The Little Mermaid” & I’m sad to have missed that because they had celebrities come out & sing the songs. The score for Harry Potter is all instrumental, so I knew that wasn’t going to happen, but I was still excited for another amazing Harry Potter themed adventure! Click the video below for a super quick vlog of the Event & keep reading for my thoughts overall…

The Venue –
I’d only been to the Hollywood Bowl once before for a “Behind the Scenes Tour” when I did the Disney College Program. I remembered there was a LOT of walking & I’d heard Event parking is a complete train wreck. They “stack” the cars so you end up boxed in on all sides, which is insanely inconvenient if you’re ready to leave but no one around you has left yet. On the advice of a friend we purchased off site parking, but couldn’t find the lot. We ended up just driving to the Event & paying again for on site parking. While I was deeply unhappy from a financial standpoint, because we had arrived late the only parking was right in front, not boxed in, & the chances of people arriving later than us seemed pretty slim – woo hoo! We strolled right into the venue but finding our seats was another story…we should have called ahead to find out the options for those with disabilities. We had nosebleed seats & even with the escalators, it was quite a struggle. The venue is extremely dark, which obviously makes sense because they want people to see the movie, but made walking/climbing stairs with no railings quite precarious. When we finally found our seats, we discovered we were in the middle of the narrow row & no one would get up to let us by! While this was rude, the bigger issue was that there was no space for us anyway! We let an attendant know, they conferred with their supervisor, & next thing you know we’re sitting in box seats way down in front! Amazing! Big thanks to the staff that made that happen, it definitely made our experience better! Next time, we will be purchasing more expensive but closer seats – it’s way worth it! Also, arriving late for parking worked in our favor as no one arrived after us, so we weren’t boxed in.  We were on the freeway in about 15 minutes!

The People –
I was disappointed by the negative response from the people in the row we were supposed to sit in. However, I guess I should be thanking them because they helped us get better seats! As I mentioned, super happy with the staff of HB! I wish we had thought to get the names of the staff that helped us because I would have written a “thank you letter” to compliment them personally. Beyond that initial negative experience, the crowd was…unified. That’s the only way I can explain it. Whenever something special happens for Harry Potter, there’s always this feeling of, dare I say, magic in the air. I think that’s because a majority of the crowd are real true fans. They’re willing to wait for hours to buy a new book, see a movie, spend the day in a theme park, etc, these types of Events aren’t for casual fans. They bring out the die hards, people in cosplay or themed outfits (I was wearing a Hufflepuff shirt!), people that know all the words to the movies & cheer when Harry catches his first Snitch or boo when Wormtail appears because they know what role he’ll play later. It’s truly, again, magical, to sit in a crowd of people & know that you’re all part of something. In a world that sometimes feels like it’s falling apart, it’s nice to know you can turn to your fandom.

The Performance –
I had no idea what to expect from a Harry Potter Concert! I had read a few articles leading up to the Event & mostly they talked about how difficult the performance was going to be in regards to pulling the soundtrack from the film but keeping all the audio. I did find the music overwhelmed the audio at certain times, but I realized I had to restructure the way I was thinking about the Event. Somehow, I wanted the music to just quietly frame the movie, but be really awesome & powerful! There’s no way to accomplish that. The point of this Event was to focus on the beauty of the music & how it added to the film. Once I kind of let the film take a back seat & focused on the music, it WAS really awesome & powerful. I noticed certain nuances I’d never noticed before when I’d watched the film & focused only on the dialogue. This is definitely an Event for music lovers. You must love the sound, the feeling, the epic-ness! of live orchestral music. Obviously these musicians are extremely talented & I was thrilled to see the Conductor wearing a Hufflepuff tie & pin!

The Final Verdict –
People always say to arrive early for parking, but we found that arriving later worked WAY better & will most likely do so again. As I said, there may be other options that we were unaware of, but based on what I saw, this Venue is not very “disabled friendly”. I will need to investigate other options for the future & definitely feel it’s worth it to pay for more expensive seats closer to the front. Overall, an extremely enjoyable & unique experience that brought together a lot of people & helped strengthen their love of Harry Potter. What could be better?! I hope Hollywood Bowl continues to put on these Special Events, especially if they continue with the rest of the Harry Potter series & Disney films.

Have you ever been to this Venue or seen a Movie/Concert like this? Please let me know in the comments below! Thanks for reading 🙂

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!

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 🙂