A Personalized Ultra Music Festival Schedule For My Friend Teodor (and anyone else going to Ultra)

This is my friend Teodor.

Cool shirt!

Teodor is going to Miami for Ultra – the mecca of EDM festivals – in just a few short weeks, and he asked me if I had any thoughts on the lineup and suggestions of who he should see.

Just kidding! He didn’t ask my opinion at all. I told him that when the set times came out, I was going to make him a schedule and he had better stick to it. He told me he would, as long as I made it into a blog post. Well, the Ultra set times are out, and here we are.

Below is Teodor’s carefully crafted Ultra schedule that I’m forcing upon him. These selections were not made lightly; I took into account all the very best music that Ultra has to offer while still considering the artists that I knew he would want to see. This is not just a reflection of my own preferences. I MADE SACRIFICES.

(Side note – do you want a personalized schedule for a music festival you’re going to? I will make you one, free of charge! Not joking – this is fun for me.)

(Double side note – if you go to the Ultra website to look at set times, this is what you get, only slightly larger. Why. Why why why. I could write a whole blog post about how horrible this image is.)

Friday, March 29th
Teodor won’t be at Ultra that day but whatever. Making this list anyway just for completeness’ sake.

5:05pm – Get them tropical house vibes with MATOMA

7:00pm – Check out Rage Against the Machine guitarist TOM MORELLO perform his twisted alt/EDM hybrid album in a performance that is sure to be one of the best of Ultra that will also be the most confusing to attendees who don’t know enough to care about this artist.

9:20pmALESSO, because it wouldn’t be Ultra without some solid progressive house.

10:00pm – Seemingly the biggest band in the universe right now, ODESZA

11:15pm – Yo Skrill drop it hard with DOG BLOOD (I would want this slot to be taken by Jai Wolf, but I know he wouldn’t go to that)

12:30am – The Man, the Myth, the Legend – MARSHMELLO

Saturday, March 30th
This is where the real excitement begins.

5:00pm – Odesza junior, AKA PHANTOMS

6:30pm – I have no idea how you’ll react to G JONES but this is far and away the best of this time slot

8:00pm – This is a new collab, but anything that involves Big Gigantic is great so GIGANTIC NGHTMRE it is.

9:30pm – Let GRiZ take you to funkytown (please do not go to Armin Van Buuren or I will end our friendship)

10:55pm – Get some clarity with ZEDD

12:30amDEADMAU5 and also you must pronounce it “deadmau-FIVE” the entire time

Sunday, March 31st
Last day already? My how the time flies.

8:00pm – If you liked G Jones, you’ll love SPACE JESUS

9:10pm – Apparently this guy is still around – AFROJACK

10:30pm – Resist the urge to go to David Guetta because ERIC PRYDZ is the clear move here.

11:30pm – Everyone’s favorite space mom, REZZ

12:00am – If you must leave Rezz early to go to ARMIN VAN BUUREN, I will permit it but don’t leave toooo early.

Have fun, be safe, and please clear all potential schedule deviations with me in advance. Thank you.

Advertisements

Blog Posts I Am Never Going to Write

In the Notes app on my phone lives a list of potential blog post ideas. The list has been going since 2014, and is almost entirely ideas that have come to me while I was at some show or another, because, unsurprisingly, music is what most inspires this blog about music.

The list grows more than it shrinks, because a lot of the time, if I can’t sit right down right away and work on an idea that I have, by the next day, I’m no longer inspired by that thought.

I told myself I would blog once a month in 2019, and since there are less than 2 hours left of February I decided to look at my list of post ideas for “inspo,” as the obnoxious social media world says.

I am wholly unimpressed with this list. But I also hate deleting things from the list if I haven’t written about them. So, instead of a “real” blog post, here’s a list of posts I will never write.

Lady Gaga and Kanye West are the same person
No, they’re not. I had this idea back when both artists had far different public personas than they do now, but this is still a dumb idea.

Bands to catch up on
I’ve referenced in some of my goals posts that I wanted to spend more time listening to bands that are well-loved yet that I feel I could dive deeper into. That list includes: Radiohead, Tool, Dave Matthews Band, Pink Floyd, LCD Soundsystem, and the Beatles. And look, blog post written! That’s all I really have to say on that topic. And also I have done very little of this, although I did put in some solid Radiohead time in 2018.

What IS house music? Brass house? TMZZ
TMZZ is Too Many Zooz, and brass house is the genre label they’ve given themselves. TMZZ is a band comprised of a trumpet, a drummer and a baritone sax. Can house music be contained within 3 instruments and no actual electronic production? The world may never know, because I’m never going to investigate this highly important question.

“Lizzi question”
This is related to a conversation I had a few years ago with, you guessed it, my friend Lizzi! I really should have written this  blog post because Lizzi actually asked me to write it. She wanted to dissect whether women felt safer, specifically with regards to men and potential sexual harassment or violence, at all-genre shows and festivals vs EDM shows and festivals. Her take was that she felt less comfortable in the more mainstream crowds at all-genre festivals because there’s a higher rate of alcohol consumption, which, let’s be honest, can sometimes turn people into shitheads. I wasn’t sure I agreed at the time, and I’m still not sure that I do. I think I did try to get some women to weigh in but couldn’t get enough of a conversation going to really get a post fleshed out.

5 weird festival tips
This post was predicated on the fact that I wanted to share some unsolicited advice about bringing mittens to music festivals. I know, mittens are never on your mind in the middle of July, but if you’re going to a camping festival that has predicted cold weather, mittens are awesome. You know you’re not going to bring a bulky coat or anything actually warm, but keeping your hands warm really does spread the warmth to the rest of your body. I learned this tip accidentally when I was freezing at Voodoo Festival in New Orleans and bought some mittens from a vendor. It was a game changer. Anyway though, I could never really think of any other tips that are “weird” so this post was kind of DOA. Don’t get me wrong, I have lots of practical festival advice, but nothing too shocking.

My music bucket list
Queen (with Adam Lambert, I guess). Sia. Big Grizmatik. Britney Spears. There, now you have my live music bucket list.

Tada! It’s like 6 mini blog posts in one! Maybe this will inspire me to actually write some of the ones I didn’t put here. Or maybe they’ll end up in a future iteration of this post. TBD!

Let’s Talk About Dave Matthews Band

My first Dave Matthews memory is from high school, when seemingly every teenager in my little suburban town went to a Dave Matthews show, then showed up to school the next day wearing the concert t-shirt and talking about the show incessantly. I wasn’t sad that I had missed it, but I was annoyed that no one would talk about anything else.

My second and third and probably fourth Dave Matthews memories are the exact same thing, repeated periodically until I graduated. I think one of those times it had rained the night before, and everyone talked about the rain as if it had been a spiritual experience and Dave himself was the second coming.

Those are my only Dave Matthews Band memories. If you haven’t guessed, I don’t particularly listen to DMB. I know that “Crash” song that’s THE quintessential Dave Matthews song, and I also know that song that I assume is the secondary quintessential Dave Matthews song that goes, um…. “take these chanceeeeeeees, something something something.” (A quick Google tells me this song is called “Ants Marching,” and also that there is no way I would have ever guessed what those next lyrics are because wowww does it not sound like he’s saying what Google says he’s saying).

I don’t dislike DMB, per se, it’s just that I never really paid them much attention. As a teenager I was too busy listening to Guster and Barenaked Ladies and while I probably could have gotten into DMB if I really wanted to, I never cared enough to try. Maybe if someone in high school had ever spoken to me about them on a personal level instead of just trying to make me feel bad for missing DAVE IN THE RAIN, it might have been different.

It’s like when I was 18, hanging out in my freshman dorm common room, talking about how I wasn’t necessarily opposed to reading Harry Potter but that I had never sought it out.

“If someone handed me a book and said ‘read it,’ I would,” I said.

My hallmate Tim ran to his room, emerged with Sorcerer’s Stone, shoved it at me and said, “Read it.”

If you know anything about me at all, you know just how much I love, LOVE, Harry Potter. So maybe all I need is for someone to do the equivalent of handing me the first book and telling me to read it. Maybe DMB is my musical Harry Potter, just waiting for me to discover it and become weirdly (but healthily!) obsessed.

Dave Matthews Band is obviously still around, although they’ve never been at the forefront of my life in any more prevalent way than they were for those few years of high school. Occasionally they’ll come up in conversation and I mention that I don’t listen to them and the other person inevitably says the one thing that I guess they teach you in Being A Dave Matthews Fan 101:

“You haaaaave to see them live.”

To this I always give my standard response, which is:

“Sure, but I’m not about to pay to see a band that I don’t necessarily like.”

And then they nod in understanding and the conversation ends.

One time many years ago I had this conversation with a guy I was sort of dating and he actually said that he would take me to see them! Amazing. Conveniently, one week later, Dave Matthews Band announced a tour. The next time I saw my man friend we had the following conversation:

Me: Hey, did you see that Dave Matthews is going on tour?
Him: Oh, cool.
*end scene*

I guess that is my final DMB memory. For now.

That conversation was a long time ago, and it’s been even longer since I’ve heard any Dave Matthews music, even those 2 superfamous songs. I’ve evolved a lot as a music fan in those years, particularly in my appreciation of a really great live music experience. I’m much more open to going to concerts where I don’t know much about the artist, and furthermore, I’m semi-actively trying to catch live shows of artists that I’ve been told are really incredible live. The most prevalent example of this I can think of is when I went to a Phish show 2 summers ago despite not knowing any Phish songs. I paid a lot of money and I went by myself. I loved it.

What this means is, I think, that 20 years after I wanted nothing to do with even the mention of a Dave Matthews concert, I think I’m ready to go to a Dave Matthews concert.

DMB is conveniently going on tour this spring and summer, and while I would love to have a man friend offer to buy me a ticket (and..actually follow through this time), I’m prepared to actually pay.

Do you, person reading this, want to be my Dave Matthews buddy? The only qualification is that you have to be okay with the fact that I do not know any songs because even the songs I know, I apparently have no idea what the lyrics are. So if you’re the world’s biggest Dave Matthews fan and the only person you want to be at a show with is the world’s second biggest Dave Matthews fan, this is not the opportunity for you. But I promise to have a positive attitude because hi, I love live music, and if it rains I will bring a poncho but I hope it doesn’t rain because I don’t care what those kids in my high school said, rain may not ruin a show but it certainly never makes it better.

But I think it’s time to see what all the hype is about.

 

I’m Running for Mayor of Musictown

Hello everyone, my name is Arielle and I’m running for mayor of Musictown.

Musictown is one of my favorite places on Earth, and I imagine the same is true for many of you. It’s a magical city where some of our most precious and joyful memories lie; where we forge soulful connections with others, experience powerful emotions, and, well, where we have a lot of fun.

I had always been a frequent visitor to Musictown, until about 6 years ago when I moved here for good. In that time I’ve been to nearly 500 shows, in the largest of stadiums and in venues that were basically just a small stage in an alleyway. I’ve been in an audience of 5 and an audience of 50,000. I’ve given my heart, soul, and wallet to this city, and I truly do not know what the last few years of my life would have been like without it.

Life in Musictown is one sparked with passion. But this city of dancing and singing and clapping and celebrating, while it brings so much light to so many people, that light is not without darkness. I’ve spent 5 of my 6 years in Musictown taking copious notes on my experiences here. I’ve jotted down my thoughts about what works and what doesn’t, what I hate and what I love. But over the years I’ve also spoken with many of you, my fellow music lovers, trying to understand what elements of our wonderful city help instill meaning in your lives, and where the pain points are. I’ve chatted with you not through official interviews, but through informal conversation relaxing at our campsites at music festivals or while in line for coat check at a show. I’ve spoken with you not because I knew I wanted to run for office someday – in fact, I began these conversations long before I even knew that Musictown had a mayor. I’ve spoken with you because you, like me, understand, seek, and crave that feeling of pure bliss that only comes with seeing incredible live music in the right place, at the right time, with the right people. When the stars align and your experience feels so perfect as to be transcendent. I’ve spoken with you because music is what we love, and sometimes we just don’t want to talk about anything else.

This is why I want to be the mayor of Musictown. I want to utilize the knowledge I’ve gained over the years to improve upon those pieces of the live music experience that are less than ideal. To make it easier for all of us to achieve the perfect, hassle-free concert experience.

I have many ideas about how Musictown can be improved. I won’t bore you with all of them today, but here are a few.

As some of you know, my first inclination to run for mayor of Musictown came about when I expressed that every show – no matter how large or small – should publish set times in advance. I still stand by this. Our time is valuable, and I firmly believe that we should be able to plan our evenings accordingly. Many concerts have relatively predictable timing, but others do not. Some venues open their doors at 10pm and the headliners don’t come on until 2am. Those same venues will, on rare occasion, bring the headliner on at midnight. Being forced to guess at possible set times is frustrating. People need the power to make informed concert-going decisions, and I plan to work for full set-time transparency. For all shows.

Even more important than transparency at shows, however, is safety. If elected mayor, I plan to implement a number of measures to ensure that concert-goers have a safe and comfortable experience.

First, I want to see ear plugs for sale at all music venues. Citizens, I cannot force you to wear ear plugs, though I strongly encourage them and you will never see me at a show without mine. But for those moments where the volume is just a bit louder than you’d like, you should always be able to purchase a pair of single-use, foam earplugs for a dollar. I’ve had friends leave shows because they were too loud. This should never happen to anyone.

Next, I believe that all concert venues should have free water. They may also choose to sell bottled water if they wish, but there must be a water fountain or cooler available. Water is a critical component of concert safety, particularly at outdoor summer events or very crowded indoor events. No one should be forced to pay $5 for a bottle of water just to avoid passing out from dehydration and overheating.

The final change I hope to implement to enhance concert-goer safety is to do a thorough investigation into each venue’s maximum capacity and, where necessary, lower it. I have definitely been to shows where people appear to be packed in far beyond what could possibly be legally permitted, and I’m sure you can think of a few as well. Choosing to go up to the front of a show and be in the thick of a crowd is one thing, but being unable to even lift your arms anywhere in an entire venue is another. Not only is it unsafe, but it’s not fun. Every live music event should have ample open space in the back for those who need a little more room to breathe or dance.

There are tons of other issues I hope to tackle in my time as mayor: ticket scalping, improving security screenings, and increasing the number of women’s restrooms, to name a few. But before I leave you, I want to share with you one of my more innovative ideas, to hopefully demonstrate that I’m a creative thinker willing to take risks on your behalf.

If elected mayor of Musictown, I plan to implement a pilot program to test the feasibility of having a 25+ section at select venues or shows. Those of you who, like me, are on the slightly older side of full-time Musictown residents may agree that sometimes it’s difficult to be around a group of teenagers. Allowing attendees to opt in to being around people closer to their own age has the potential to improve the concert-going experience for everyone. I plan to conduct a number of focus groups to collect ideas before the pilot goes into effect, so if you’d like to share your thoughts on this plan, please be in touch! My door is always open – not just for this issue, but any other issue that may arise. Because, as mayor, I will be your representative. And I want to know what I can do to to help.

I hope that I have your vote, and I hope to see you out on the dance floor.

This post inspired by this tweet:

Hijinx: The Music

It’s only  been 2 weeks since I attended the first-ever (hopefully of many??) Hijinx Festival but it already feels light years away. As a two-day event with only one stage, there were fewer acts on the lineup than most festivals but I still managed to catch some really amazing sets. Here are some highlights!

RL Grime
Somehow it had been, I think, 4 of 5 years since I last saw RL Grime, on a random Tuesday evening at Webster Hall. The Hijinx set was just incredible and really demonstrated to me that while some artists shine in intimate venues, others are meant to be seen on a giant stage with a massive sound system. The combination of dark sound and high energy is an experience best shared with thousands of other people at once.

Big Gigantic, GRiZ
These artists didn’t even play on the same day of the festival, but I’m lumping them together because there was a common theme here – artists who normally play funk music who didn’t play that much funk music.

This was my only Big G show of the year, so I was pretty amped to get to squeeze in this set from one of my favs before the close of 2018. Somehow, though, it fell flat for me. There’s a joyfulness in their shows that I was missing because they focused a lot on creating heavier, bass-filled sounds over dancey sax music, which is where they excel.  I didn’t dislike it but it was forgettable.

GRiZ’s set was similar – my only one of the year, and he leaned towards more generic, crowd-pleasing bass. I thought this was much more successful than Big Gigantic’s set, at least, and still really enjoyed it, but I wanted to hear the GRiZ songs I know and love and he didn’t play that many songs that I recognized. Both artists played this song below, though, which was a highlight both times.

Bassnectar
This was the best Nectar set I’ve seen in probably 3 years. It was really vibey which I loved, although Bassnectar diehards probably wanted more of the headbangy stuff that’s sort of his signature. A few people mentioned that, with a huge New Year’s Eve show coming up right after Hijinx, he was holding back and saving some of his most intense tracks for NYE, which was perfectly fine with me.

Illenium
I don’t know much about Illenium but this set was exactly what I was expected to be – kind of light, fun, musical tracks with just a touch of thickness thrown in to get the crowd going. I can’t name a single song of his but I would absolutely see him again.

Odesza
Odesza just gets better and better for me every time. They’ve played “Loyal” a lot at their shows over the years, but it was never officially released until September so a lot of mystery surrounded it for years. A brooding and intense highlight in an otherwise ethereal discography, “Loyal” always serves as a climax of any live set they throw it in. I was eagerly awaiting this song at Hijinx, and they did not disappoint. A perfect way to close both the festival and the year.

2019 festival lineups are already dropping, so while I won’t be attending any fests for awhile, the planning is already very much underway!

2018 Goals Update, 2019 Goal-Setting

Every year I set music goals for myself, write them in a blog post, and immediately forget them. Because of this, any time I’ve met my goals, it was totally by accident and a nice surprise when I did my goals recap the following year. I should probably just stop setting goals at all, but it’s fun to think about so even though – spoiler alert – I did really poorly on my 2018 goals, I’m going to press on.

How did I do for 2018? Let’s see.

Meet 3 new artists
I met 0 new artists this year! Doh.

Get my money’s worth from Jukely every month
This would be a great goal if I had more time and energy. In theory I could just pick up a Jukely pass to any ol’ show and check out a random artist I knew nothing about, but I’m at the point in my life where, if I don’t have plans, I don’t want plans. I would get my money out of Jukely if they had a better selection of shows, but it’s gone pretty steadily downhill over the last few years. As it is, I only got my full money’s worth out of Jukely for 5 months of 2018, which is abysmal. Overall throughout the year, I got about $28 more dollars worth of shows out of my Jukely membership than I paid for it, which is at least on the positive side, but barely. While there’s definitely an intangible value to having access to shows that I either a) wouldn’t have known about or b) wouldn’t have gone to without Jukely, I’m still going to have to seriously reevaluate if this is worth it.

Write at least one real blog post a month
HA. Okay.

Get my record collection to 50
At the end of 2017 I had 25 records. I currently have 25 records. I’m okay with this because records are expensive, and I do a lot of work from home, which means I’m not listening to music because I can’t concentrate otherwise. Plus, I could honestly get by with just 4 or 5 of the records from my collection.

What are my 2019 goals?

Go to one new music festival
I have a few on my radar for this summer – Bonnaroo and Summer Camp already announced killer lineups, and my friend and I are eagerly awaiting the Lightning in a Bottle lineup. All possibilities.

Write one real blog post a month
Even though I failed spectacularly at this in 2018, I want to do better. Blogging is such a joy for me, it’s a shame I don’t devote more time to it. Every time I go to a show I feel super inspired and jot down post ideas in my phone, and then I get home and don’t do anything with them. I want to change that.

Visit at least one new NYC music venue
There are somehow a bunch I still haven’t been to! I don’t know how this is possible but I want to see what else is out there.

Go to Colorado for a Red Rocks show
I don’t know which one, but it has to be something. It was 3 years in between my first and second RR visits and I refuse to let that happen again. I’m going to try really really hard to make it to Rowdytown, which is Big Gigantic’s annual Red Rocks weekend, but it often falls on the Jewish holidays which sucks. Maybe 2019 is the year!

This seems like a nice and mostly doable list. I’ll have forgotten it all by tomorrow but I look forward to checking in a year from now and being disappointed! Bahaha.

Hijinx: The Experience

To end my 2018 with a bang, I went to the inaugural Hijinx Festival in Philadelphia, PA. As a first year, indoor, winter festival, Hijinx really had a lot of factors working against it. But I have to say, and everyone else I spoke to both friend and stranger agreed, this event exceeded all expectations.

Check-in/Security
The event website told everyone to arrive an hour before the first artist they wanted to see. While this is definitely solid festival advice, it set the tone for long lines and disorganized security checks. What we found when we arrived each night, however, was clear signage, friendly staff stationed near the doors solely for the purpose of giving high fives, and a really quick and smooth entry process. The fact that this event was held at the Philadelphia Convention Center and not just in the middle of some field like many music festivals meant the staff were prepared for crowds of this size (roughly 18,000) because this is part of their normal business operations. I’ve said this before about Camp Bisco, too – going to a festival at a venue that is an actual venue and not a pop-up in the middle of nowhere has massive benefits when it comes to organization, and thus, attendee experience.

The Crowd
Pretty standard, relatively non-obnoxious festival crowd. No great or horrible standouts, which is just fine by me. Though I’m really starting to notice just how much older I am than everyone.

Fun Stuff
Okay, Hijinx didn’t really have any fun stuff, per se. But…it was a convention center, so I didn’t exactly expect a secret garden or yoga classes or any of that stuff. I was pretty pleased with the sort of minimal but still cool and enormous inflatables hanging from the ceiling, because “I’m right under the upside down pyramid!” made meeting up with people pretty easy.

Water
Water fountains!! What a treat.

Layout
Even though it was one big room they still had a cute little vendor area and a good amount of bars, and though you could never really get away from the music (see: one big room) there was plenty of space. Considering that the center is probably most often used for conferences they did an incredible job of making it feel like a real festival.

Transportation
The convention center is located super centrally in Philly. There were hotels galore in the immediate vicinity and traveling to and within the city is a piece of cake. Having a short walk to and from the event was a nice change considering that most festivals have longggg walks back to your campsite afterward.

Price
My first tier ticket was super reasonable. I would have paid a lot more for this lineup (though I’m glad I didn’t!).

Bathrooms
Yet again the convention center-ness of this festival shines through. Real bathrooms! And just to keep it real (and reduce lines), they brought in port-a-potties, too. There were still some bathroom lines but it was never more than a few minutes. They were clean and there was toilet paper. In the grand scheme of festival bathrooms they may as well have been gold-encrusted toilets. It’s a low bar, you guys.

Misc.
Holy sound system, Batman. I never knew bass could be so clear. Truly one of the best if not THE best sound I’ve encountered at a music festival.

Stay tuned for the Hijinx music recap!