April Shows

Austin always has great live music but the month of April proved greater than most. This is said with consideration that March has its SXSW and October its ACL. Two of the bands from my current top five played her in April in addition to another great live band that I saw long ago, before they were big.

Arcade Fire played the Austin 360 Amphitheater on April 10. We took a party bus from downtown Austin – which we learned is the way to travel out to 360 if the band you want to see isn’t playing IN town. Of course we brought along all the essential party supplies and enjoyed ourselves in a way that we could not have, had we driven ourselves. When the tour was initially announced, it was requested that attendees wear “formal attire”. Some people didn’t like this at first thought but I was happy to see a good percentage of folks decide to give it a go. I wore what I called “fun formal” including Loud Mouth Golf pants, a tuxedo shirt, bow tie and cumber bun. Prior to the show we also did some tailgating of sorts and had our share of pictures in the bluebonnets.

Image

The actual concert was true to form with an unmatched musical performance, show effects of lights, confetti, dancing, music and large paper mache heads of the Pope and Obama. They played mostly from their new album but a good number of older songs as well. Those of us up close in the pit did our fair share of dancing our pants off, some literally.

Image

The National played the Moody Theater, also known as ACL Live, three consecutive nights. They sold out every night, which speaks to their talent and Austin’s good taste. Since I was out of town the first night and had soccer the second, I attended the third. At least that’s what I tell people. Honestly, the first two nights sold out before I had a chance to grab a ticket so I had to wait until the third, magical, night was added. Though I went to this show alone, I enjoyed running into some old friends and meeting & hanging with some new ones. Concerts are good places to meet people because you know you already have something in common; it is an experience that you can build upon. Warpaint opened and you know I am a sucker for a front woman, this is a band of four. I had seen these girls before, at an ACL once upon a time, but felt this may have been one of their better shows. They had certainly matured musically. The National was, as one of my friends put it “soul crushingly amazing”; I might change that slightly by adding an -ly to amazing and wrapping the description up with beautiful. The universal humanity of their lyrics reaches deep within the individual whose ears they fall upon. Matt passionately poured out his heart in each song. He even got the crowd involved by firstly walking throughout the entire crowd and ultimately having us all sing along to an acoustic Vanderlyle. The full set list can be found HERE on my Instagram.

Since Vampire Weekend is set to play at FPSF in Houston at the end of May, I had initially passed on the ticket to Stubb’s. When I realized how many friends were attending, and considering Stubb’s is my favorite venue, I picked up a ticket from a couple just before they unloaded to a money-hungry-scalper. The show held a friendly happy feeling to it general and it was good to be there with friends. It was also good to be a little nostalgic, thinking back to when I saw them at indoors (at a pre-remodeled) Mohawk a number of years ago with just a handful of people indoors versus this sold-out show at Stubb’s. I look forward to seeing them again at the end of May, but the details of that festival are reserved for this Friday’s post.

 

never look back, never give up (a year end review)

Today’s title comes from the band Haim’s song, Falling.  Haim is just one of the bands that I fell in love with this past year. Others include Air Review, Lord Huron, Chvrches, Poolside, Phantogram, The Joy Formidable and St. Lucia.  Phosphorescent’s Song for Zula takes my song of the year, at the least.

White Lies, Local Natives, The National and Arcade Fire gave us new albums. I was able to catch a Mumford & Sons‘ show with my brother Joe and two of my cousins, Mary Elizabeth and Annie.

My year began with a snowboarding trip with my brother Joe. He is a skier but gave boarding a go. It was a good, yet cold adventure. At the end of the month and in contrast, I took Lindsey to Playa del Carmen, Mexico for her 30th birthday. We enjoyed the warm weather and beach views from the pool plus its fruity and sugary drinks. The few days we were there reminded us that we could take a vacation and simply relax versus go – go – go.

Three other trips that Lindsey and I took, and I have already blogged about include, Vancouver, Chicago and Charlotte.  Vancouver, in May, to visit the fabulous city and I ran the marathon. The Chicago trip was to visit some old friends and celebrate the 4th of July. Charlotte was to visit her family and explore what the city has to offer; we took a second trip there for Christmas.

Two of my favorite places to eat in Houston grew this past year. Good Dog, formally a food truck, opened its brick and mortar in the heart of the Heights; walking distance from Lindsey’s. Liberty Kitchen, still a favorite in the Heights, opened a second location that has a gorgeous interior and a Japanese influenced menu. My final word regarding food and drink in 2013 would be the introduction of the Untappd app. It allows me to find, track and rate the many craft beers I get to experience.

Finally, some life experiences of note. Two of my brothers graduated from college. One of which, Robert, has been living in Houston for all of 2013, meaning I was able to see him more. Some of my most memorable dining and concert experiences included that young lad. Running is a major part of my life. This year I ran fewer marathons and less mileage overall but found joy in coaching running. I helped a few friends run their best races, whether it was a 10k, half marathon or marathon. Coaching two soccer teams, I was reminded the happiness that can be found in coaching soccer, the fun to be had while learning. To top them all, last Saturday my niece, Mary Elizabeth, said “Wuv you!” for the first time, it was to me, her uncle John.

I look forward to the adventures, meaning and moments that 2014 will bring!

what are you supposed to be?

When I think of Halloween, I think of this sketch by Seinfeld:

Whatever it is you have chosen to go with: Popular like a fox from What does a fox say?, the Robertson Family of Duck Dynasty or a Breaking Bad combo -OR- something more political like Dr. Seuss Senator Cruz, Wendy Davis or even the government shut-down… do it well! If there are others who chose the same, you must be the best.

To get you through your Friday afternoon and as you go into your weekend, an album due out next week:

and a passionate artist that returns to Austin Nov. 15 at Emo’s