Veteran’s Day – How you can help!

Today America celebrates Veteran’s Day so this post is dedicated to all of those that have  bravely served our country!

I’m including some links below to posts about Charity work I’ve done with a military focus & a post about some shirts you can buy to support military charities. Hopefully this will encourage you all to show some support to these wonderful companies that are striving to help our military members and their families.

Happy 4th of July! @TAPSOrg @Macys @GotYourSix
Event Recap – @Macys #ChandlerFashionSquare supports @GotYourSix & @TAPSorg
Featured! Miss Al-Leigh on TAPS News
Event Recap – Charity! TAPS at the Disney 1/2 Marathon
Veteran’s Day: Shirts to show your Support!

I’ve also included a little playlist of “inspired” songs for this Veteran’s Day – fair warning – some of these are TEAR JERKERS!
IMG_3902What do you think? What charities do you support? Any other songs I could’ve added to this list? Please let me know, thanks for reading!

 

 

Advertisements

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 🙂

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!

Updated playlist!

Here’s a list of 20 new songs I downloaded off of Itunes last night. I’ve been feeling musically deprieved because usually I only buy songs that are .99 cents or cheaper & most of these songs were more expensive than that, but I couldn’t take it anymore!! All of these songs are available on Itunes varying from $0.69 to $1.29

1) Try a Little Tenderness by Otis Redding.
A classic! I heard this song for the first time in AGES when I had to watch “The Commitments” for my Rock ‘n’ Roll history class last semester. After hearing it again, I remembered why it’s SO good especially the part when the beat picks up.

2) S&M by Rihanna
I don’t generally like Rihanna’s music but this song JAMS!! It’s uber catchy, the perfect dance tune, and I love the video, it’s so vivid & full of metaphors.

3) Peace Come Over You
4) Say
5) How Many Times
6) Every If & Every Why
– all by The Rocket Summer
I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE x’s a million, The Rocket Summer aka Bryce Avary. I could write a whole post dedicated to Bryce, but I’ll try to keep this short. These four songs are from “Of Men & Angels: B-Sides”. These songs are SO amazing, as I always expect from Bryce. Peace Come Over You & How Many Times are more peaceful relaxing songs, whereas Every If & Every Why has more of a rock edge to it and Say is somewhere right in the middle. If you buy any of the songs on this list, DEFINITELY buy The Rocket Summer. Bryce is an amazing amazing artist that doesn’t get nearly enough credit for his talents.

7) Chit Chat by Christine Bibawi
I met Christine when we were both extras on the set of the Michael Jackson/Akon video “Hold My Hand”. She mentioned that she was a singer/songwriter & we got to talking about her music career. This is her first single & I totally love it. It’s really electronic sounding & fun to dance to. I also like the message – NO CHIT CHAT!!

8) American Honey by Lady Antebellum
This song just feels really relaxing and calm to me. When I hear it I feel like I should be in a field of flowers or at a park, just basking in the sunshine and chilling out.

9) King of Anything by Sara Bareilles
Love the message of this song, love the poppy, brightness of the tune & love her voice. This song is so fun to sing along to.

10) What The Hell by Avril Lavigne
It’s been awhile since I’ve liked any of Avril’s music, but this song is SO SO SO fun! I like the different dynamics of the song, loud/soft, long/short notes, etc. To me, this is totally a bad ass, bad girl anthem song.

11) Price Tag by Jessie J Ft. B.O.B
Just happened to discover this song on Youtube & I fell under it’s spell. Jessie J is so beautiful & she’s a cross between Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Fergie, & Nicki Minaj. This is a good song to dance to, not shake your butt type dancing, but just to like…rock out to. Like a lot of the songs on this list, I love the message in this song. I also think it sounds really unique…cha ching cha ching…bla bling bla bling! 🙂

12) Please Don’t Go by Mike Posner
A totally chill club song. I know that sounds like a contradiction but if you know this song you know what I mean! The beats of this song are sick, whenever I hear this song I think of my friend that creates his own music because it sounds like something he would’ve made.

13) Secrets by OneRepublic
Favorite line: “Thought you saw me wink – no! I’ve been on the brink though.” I like the beautiful violins in this song, it’s a very unique sound. This song has a very relaxed urban feel to it, I could see myself listening to this while walking through a big city on a chilly fall day. It’s kind of a melancholy song, but I still love it!

14) Don’t Rain on My Parade by Barbra Streisand
Classic! Yes, I originally heard this song on Glee, but no one can beat Streisand so I had to download her version. This song was also featured in one of my favorite movies “Life With Mikey”. This is such a great song to just belt out when people have been pushing you around and bringing you down. I love musical theatre!!

15) Hell on the Heart by Eric Church
This song is soo romantic!! I hope my boyfriend feels this way about me LOL. Catchy tune, makes you dance in your seat.

16) Stompin the Roses by David Archuleta
This song totally makes me wanna rock out! The best part of the song is that Bryce Avary (The Rocket Summer) wrote it! It DEFINITELY sounds like something he would write. I’m disappointed he didn’t record it himself, but it’s okay.

17) Moment 4 Life by Nicki Minaj & Drake
I don’t generally like rap or R&B but this song has a nice message. I don’t like the chorus all that much but I like Nicki’s rap sections.

18) Yeah 3X by Chris Brown
Okayyy, since I’m not sure exactly how I feel about Chris Brown given his violent tendencies, I tried not to download this song for as long as possible, because I don’t like to support celebrities who I feel are not nice people. However, I can’t get this song out of my head – it’s such a party song! This song seems to me like a new version of Forever, which I also loved & was obsessed with when it came out.

19) Better Life by Keith Urban
Just discovered this song & I really like it. The music itself is somewhat average & sounds very much like other Keith Urban songs, but I LOVE the lyrics. They really apply to my life right now, and my favorite lyrics are the kind that have meaning 🙂

20) Hell Yeah by Montgomery Gentry
Another somewhat melancholy song that ends with a really rocking chorus!

Thanks for reading my list. Do you like any of these songs? What are some other songs you think I’d like? Let me know in the comments!
Love,
Al-Leigh