2017 Goals Update, 2018 Goal-Setting

At the end of each year I check in with my music goals and set new ones for the coming year. I continue to do this process annually even though I forget my goals as soon as I hit “Publish” on my blog post and I never remember what they were until it’s time for the year-end update. So really, instead of working toward these goals all year and then telling you all how I did, I get to be surprised by them and it’s always a crap shoot whether I hit any of the milestones I wanted to or not.

It is a deeply flawed system. Yet I continue to use it. What can I say? I’m a flawed person. Let’s see what my 2017 goals were:

  • Meet 3 new artists
  • Treat myself to VIP at a show/festival
  • Experience at least 2 NYC music venues I haven’t been to yet
  • Write at least 2 “real” blog posts per month
  • Devote some time to an artist that I probably should have paid more attention to over the years but didn’t.

And how did I do?

Meet 3 new artists
Thanks to the joys of music blogging I met several! Most notably, TroyBoi and Big Wild, both of which were incredibly exciting (and nervewracking!) interviews for me. Crushed this goal.

With TroyBoi

With Big Wild

Treat myself to a VIP show/festival
This was a little bit of a cheat because I had already booked VIP 2017 Electric Forest tickets by the time I set my goals for the year. BUT, my friend and I did VIP for Gramatik New Year’s Eve so I got that in anyway. Check and check.

Hit up 2 new music venues
In addition to new festivals which I don’t really count as new venues, I finally visited the legendary Capitol Theatre this year, as well as the Cutting Room and the NYCB Theatre at Westbury. The Cap was a particularly exciting addition because I always hear how beautiful and fun it is and it was certainly both of those things when I saw GRiZ there. Definitely a venue for super special shows only because it requires a ride on the MetroNorth.

Write at least 2 “real” blog posts per month
Hahahah fail. Womp.

Devote some time to an artist that I probably should have paid more attention to over the years but didn’t
This is a fantasy goal that I’ve had in my head for years and never seem to act upon. What I really want to do is focus on a super well known and much-admired band that I just don’t listen to – like Radiohead or Tool or Dave Matthews Band – and spend a lot of time diving into their catalog and seeing what’s what. I never do this. But maybe one day. I did download some Radiohead this year, at least.

So, what are the goals I want to set (and then ignore) for 2018?

  • Meet 3 new artists – this is a constant. I don’t do music blogging anymore (outside of here) because I wanted to focus on other things, so this one will be tricky but I think I can do it!
  • Get my money’s worth from Jukely every month that I’m a member – I did really poorly at this in 2017, as I mentioned. I’m locked into Jukely for at least 2 more months, and thankfully I’ve already gotten my money’s worth for January. But if I continue to be a member, I need to use it.
  • Write at least one real blog post a month – this means something that requires some thought. Not a “On Repeat” post where I just link to a track I’ve been obsessing over, or a “Shows I Missed” post where I list all the concerts I wanted to go to but didn’t in that particular month. A real one. I didn’t make 2 per month but maybe I can swing one.
  • Get my record collection to 50 – I have a record player now! I can’t believe I’ve never written about it. My parents got it for me as a birthday gift, and my vinyl collection currently stands at about 25. Vinyl is expensive and I haven’t quite nailed down the good spots for getting records on the cheap, but considering I’ve amassed half that number in less than 3 months I think I can reach 50 by the end of the year.

And that, I think, is all I’m going to do for this year. I want to keep the goal around checking out new venues, but the reality is that I go where the artists I like are playing, and I’m almost always fortunate to go to new spaces because of that. But I don’t see myself ever going to a new venue just to hit a goal. I also want to keep my goal around treating myself to VIP at a show or festival, but that’s also very dependent on who would do it with me. As I get older I’m definitely starting to be more discerning about dealing with the BS parts of camping festivals, and I can see myself continuing to forego General Admission in favor of VIP, the way my crew and I did at Electric Forest.

And now I’m finally done wrapping up 2017. 2018 is already well underway and even though my music habits are changing these days I still think there’s lots of excitement coming my way.

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2017, By the Numbers

Oops, I did it again! By “it” of course I mean, “did a nerdy thing where I analyzed my concert-going attendance for the year.” It is truly one of my favorite things to do because I love finding surprising and even not-so-surprising statistics. Are you ready? I know I am. I’ve been waiting all year for this moment.

total

Clear downward trend in concert-going. My number of shows has dropped almost 50% in just 2 years which is insane. I’m okay with this, though. I think I’m getting more sleep now.

venues

The number of venues I hit every year remains remarkably consistent when viewed as a percentage of total shows. Each year the number of venues I go to is just over 50% of my total show number. Hooray for diversity and living in a city with so many options.

Brooklyn Bowl has solidified itself as my #1 venue for the 2nd year in a row. Brooklyn Bowl, you deserve it. My lowered concert attendance this year meant less commitment to some mainstays and so the 3-way tie for 2nd place is by 3 venues that I wouldn’t have guessed would have made it onto this list. I somehow only went to Terminal 5 once this year, on December 31st no less, which seems impossible (but the spreadsheet never lies!).

I also like that I continue to track the number of venues that have closed over the year. In 2014 I went to FIVE venues that were closed by the end of the year, and even though that seems unlikely to happen again I still continue to keep tabs on those things.

Still doing pretty well on going to shows for free.

I spent proportionally more money on tickets this year, which is disappointing. A lot of this is due to my Jukely membership, which I don’t use as often as I used to. So there are months where I pay $35 for my subscription and only go to one show with a face value of $12. That happened more months in 2017 than it didn’t and I’m debating quitting Jukely for this reason. It’s interesting to note, though, that if I take Electric Forest out of the equation as an outlier, my percentage of total ticket value paid goes down by 8 whole percentage points. Because super VIP is expensive.

This is nuts. I love the 4 artists that were my most-seen last year but the fact that this is my list is just crazy because I don’t go THAT far out of my way to see any of them. It’s sort of a nice surprise though and demonstrates to me a few things:

  1. I don’t travel for music as much as I used to.
  2. The electro-funk/soul scene does not give New York any special treatment over other cities, which is fair but a kick in the pants for New Yorkers such as myself who are used to our city being seen as the greatest place in the universe.
  3. Sometimes it’s nice to pay attention to lesser known artists. Seeing Pretty Lights is an EVENT but seeing Escort at Brooklyn Bowl is just a delightful treat for a random weeknight.

The fact that I went to 63 shows this year but still had 29 straight days of no music is pretty mind-blowing. The fact that I went to 115 shows in 2015 with 28 no-music days is even more so.

I wonder if I will ever beat – or even match – my 2015 record of going to 3 different concerts in one night. It seems unlikely.

Okay, that’s the year-end analysis. Looking through my post-show notes, here are some comments that stand out:

“I pretended it was fun but it was not.” (OWSLA showcase at Slake)

“I saw one guy jokingly cover his girlfriend’s eyes when Leo was doing his body rolls.” (Too Many Zooz)

“She kind of moves like a sorceress, summoning things.” (About Samantha from Marian Hill. See for yourself.)

“Do I like trance now? Oh man.” (Above & Beyond)

“Everclear played most of their best songs up front which was fantastic because I was too old to stay the whole time.”

“Bassnectar was a little hangy outy at times which was actually perfect for my mood.”

“I didn’t go to Pigeons Playing Ping Pong but I heard them play Hava Negila from my tent and that was just magical.”

“This set started late so I only stayed for 15 minutes because #workinthemorning” (Pink Talking Fish)

FlyLo was just so fucking weird. Like walking around in an art museum where I don’t understand any of the art.”

“Their 3 ladies are fire emojis all the way.” (Escort)

“This was a circus in the best way possible.” (TroyBoi)

“I still don’t fully get jam bands.” (Aqueous)

That’s it for 2017. I still have to do a goals wrap-up but after seeing RJD2 last night, 2018 is already in full swing.

The Best of 2017

Another year has come and gone and it’s time to sum it all up. Here are the top 10 regular shows and top 10 festival sets of 2017.

Top 10 Shows (in chronological order)
1. Escort, Brooklyn Bowl
2. Marian Hill, Music Hall of Williamsburg
3. Deadmau5, Hammerstein Ballroom
4. Too Many Zooz, Brooklyn Bowl
5. Maddy O’Neal, American Beauty
6. Robert Delong, South Street Seaport
7. Lady Gaga, Citi Field
8. Kesha, Hammerstein Ballroom
9. Odesza, Barclays Center
10 Gramatik, Terminal 5

Top 10 Festival Sets
1. Lorde, Governors Ball
2. Flume, Governors Ball
3. Turkuaz, Disc Jam
4. TroyBoi, Electric Forest
5. Odesza, Electric Forest
6. Opiuo, Electric Forest
7. Gramatik, Camp Bisco
8. Pretty Lights, Camp Bisco
9. Barclay Crenshaw, Elements
10. Weezer, The Meadows

Worst 10 Shows
In an effort to be a more positive person, I’m not doing this list anymore. But I am 100% happy to discuss the shows I didn’t like with anyone who wants to know. There were many disappointments, unfortunately.

As always, here are some super important awards to bestow:

Biggest Festival
Or should I say, “Big”gest festival. That goes to Meadows, for hosting Big Wild, Big Boi, and Big Gigantic.

Nicest Crowd
Phish, Madison Square Garden. So polite and friendly!

Most Awkward Moment
Stevie Wonder bringing Pharrell on stage at Global Citizen Festival and then embarrassing him by forcing him to sing a song where he didn’t know the lyrics and then embarrassing him even further by making him sing “Happy” 3 times in a row.

Best Venue
Brooklyn Bowl

Worst Venue
None! I didn’t hate any venues this year, possibly due to the fact that I did not go to a single warehouse party. Truly amazing.

Best Throwback Show
Backstreet Boys, Jones Beach.
Runner up:  Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Webster Hall

Mighty Mighty Bosstones

Most Joyful Set
Turkuaz, Disc Jam. I have never experienced as much collective positive energy as I did during this set. This was not a quiet, peaceful joy. This was a raucous outpouring of happiness. People were dancing as if they were possessed by exuberant spirits.

Best Street Team/Fan Base
Robert Delong, whose street team paints faces during his performances. I traveled all the home on the train like this and I cared not one iota.

Biggest Heartbreak
When Elements Festival moved from Brooklyn (within walking distance of my house!) to the Bronx. It was still an A+ festival but man that stung.

Most Pleasant Surprise
Vourteque, whom I stumbled upon randomly during Electric Forest. It was a delightful electro-swing set that even the security guards couldn’t help but boogie down to.

Most Evolved Band
Bob Moses. The first time I saw them they played deep house. 2 years later they have morphed into an indie rock band? I don’t get it, but I’m okay with it.
Runner up – Break Science. After a number of performances with Mark Brownstein and Aron Magner of The Disco Biscuits (as Breaking Biscuits), Break Science has definitely incorporated a jammier sound into their sets.

In Memoriam
I saw Charles Bradley perform at Governors Ball this year and he has since left this world because cancer is a bitch. He was a talented, soulful musician.
Also – I haven’t seen Linkin Park perform in awhile but Chester Bennington’s death still hurts.

Next up will be everyone’s favorite (and by that I mean my favorite) post, the concert stats! Followed by a goals check-in and maybe goal-setting for 2018 (or maybe I will abandon music-related goals – TBD!).

My Year in Spotify

I love data. This is why I keep a spreadsheet that tracks my concert statistics (2017 year in review, coming soon!). So I super love that Spotify gives you an annual look into your listening history.

689 different artists! Amazing.

Some surprising stuff here. I question my top 5 songs a little as I have definitely never listened to “Diamond Heart” or “Lips” on purpose. But I’ll go with it. The stats do not lie.

Do I listen to a lot of brostep? Do you even brostep, bro? I don’t even really know what brostep is. I think that’s what people call Skrillex’ genre. I have never listened to Skrillex on Spotify or really anywhere except a live show.

My top 10! Why is the top 5 different than my other top 5? I have no idea. But yeah this seems mostly accurate. “U Are In My System” has recently made its way back into my frequent rotation after falling off for a few months.

Let’s look at some of the wider Spotify trends this year, shall we?

Most Streamed Artists
1. Ed Sheeran
2. Drake
3. The Weeknd
4. Kendrick Lamar
5. The Chainsmokers

Most Streamed Female Artists
1. Rihanna
2. Taylor Swift
3. Selena Gomez
4. Ariana Grande
5. Sia

Most Streamed Male Artists
1. Ed Sheeran
2. Drake
3. The Weeknd
4. Kendrick Lamar
5. Daddy Yankee (who has come a long way since “Gasolina,” I guess – no disrespect because I will always love that song)

The thing that bothers me about this list is that pretty much all of the top male artists come before the top female artists and while this doesn’t surprise me, we should be past this by now. WOMEN ARE TALENTED, YOU GUYS. Even Taylor Swift, who I don’t like. Sia, I would like to SEE YA higher on this list.

And with that delicious pun, I believe it is my bed time.

Anyone have any interesting Spotify insights to share with the class?

 

Opening Up My Time Capsule

If you’re a Spotify user, you probably spent significant time at the end of September browsing through – if not listening to – your Time Capsule playlist. Time Capsules are personalized playlists meant to capture roughly 2 hours of nostalgia for your teens and early 20s.

I took a quick glance at my Time Capsule when it launched in September but stopped myself because I wanted to give it the time it truly deserved; to listen through and really feel the songs to see which ones evoked some kind of memory for me.

Well, I didn’t think it would take 6 weeks but I’m finally ready to dissect my Time Capsule! Below are 10 highlights that really stood out to me. Listen to all the goodness at the bottom.

1. Everclear – So Much For The Afterglow
Everclear was, I think, the first concert I went to in high school that involved my friends and I taking the train into the city (no parents!). I pretended I enjoyed it, but I didn’t. I lost my friends early on and spent the rest of the time getting jostled by the crowd. I loved, and still love, Everclear. But that was not fun for me.

2. Green Day – Basket Case
Another amazing song but this suggestion offends me because Dookie came out in 1994 and I was not a teenager then. I’m not as old as you clearly think I am THANKS SPOTIFY.

3. Missy Elliot – Get Ur Freak On
Okay I mean I devoted an entire blog post to this song, so.

4. Ben Folds Five – Philosophy
Okay this is a little weird because I listened to this song about 6 times today before I even knew I was going to crack my Time Capsule open.

5. The Verve Pipe – The Freshmen
I have very explicit memories of singing this song in my 1st period History class as a freshman in high school because it’s a song about freshmen and “we were merely FRESHMEN” and oh, the hilarity.

6. Soundgarden – Black Hole Sun
No, no, no. This song came out in 1994 (still not a teenager in that year) and even though I haven’t watched the music video probably since around that time, I remember finding it creepy. The black hole sun was weird.

You know what? I’m going to watch that video right now. For the first time in over 20 years. Excuse me.

OH HELL NO. I made it 30 seconds in and I can’t watch anymore it’s CREEPIER THAN I REMEMBER. The weird faces! Hard pass. Here’s the video in case you want to see it, though, but don’t say I didn’t warn you. Ugh.

7. Explosions in the Sky – Your Hand in Mine
Seriously? I heard of Explosions in the Sky for the first time in 2016. I had no idea they were this old.

8. Missy Elliot – Work It
Yep, Missy is on here twice because she deserves it. I used to love singing this song in college and hearing one friend in particular make a very concerted effort to sing the backwards parts.

9. Counting Crows – Mr. Jones
Ah, memories. How I loved singing about “flamingo dancers” before I had ever heard of flamenco.

10. Blackstreet – No Diggity
I don’t have a specific memory of this song but it’s a classic. Have you ever met someone who doesn’t like this song? Of course you haven’t. Here are 5 excellent “No Diggity” covers that I compiled a few years ago.

https://open.spotify.com/embed/user/spotify/playlist/37i9dQZF1E4SNE4ke5LsYB

The Top 7 Music Videos Shot In One Take

I have an unabashed love for music videos shot in one take. I don’t know why. I guess I’m just so impressed by the fact that there was probably a lot of pressure involved and possibly a ton of retakes and it’s like, OKAY LET’S NOT GET 90% OF THE WAY THROUGH AND THEN FUCK IT UP THIS TIME, YOU GUYS. (This is 100% what I would be yelling if I were involved in a project like this. I’m very patient.)

I’m always excited to randomly stumble upon a new one-take music video, which doesn’t happen super often because I barely see music videos as it is. But here are a few that I love and have watched…many times.

1. OK Go – Here It Goes Again
OK Go are the masters of the one-take video. Otherwise known as “the treadmill video,” this one is so fun and great and would still be impressive in two or three or a million takes.

2. Kiesza – Hideaway
Super fun choreography and I love that it’s shot in Williamsburg. You see all sorts of Brooklyn-y people.

3. Too Many Zooz – Bedford
This one seems simple but the fact that they get on and off the subway during this video is insane. Also shot in Brooklyn (at least initially). When watching it I thought to myself, “They must be shooting super late at night, otherwise this train would never be empty enough for this.” (This version of the video has the timestamp in the beginning – the original version I saw had it at the end).

4. Linkin Park – Bleed It Out
The cool thing about this video is less how it’s shot and more the concept, with the band singing and the audience going in reverse. (RIP Chester Bennington, I miss Linkin Park a lot).

5. The Black Keys – Lonely Boy
THIS GOOFY GUY DANCING. That is all.

6. Weezer – Undone (The Sweater Song)
Not super flashy but sort of an interesting, low key take. And what a great song.

7. Vampire Weekend – Oxford Comma
Ezra Koenig walks through a farm while a random movie films behind him.

2016, By the Numbers

It’s the most, wonderful tiiiiiime of the year! The time where I look at all my concert statistics from the previous year and geek out excitedly over trends, anomalies, and all that fun stuff. So without further ado, here are my year-over-year deets! (Hopefully this is legible)

stats

Here are some interesting things I noticed about this year’s numbers:

  • I went to fewer shows this year but totally kicked ass on getting free/super cheap tickets
  • Even though I paid greater than face for more shows this year, this is almost entirely due to Jukely. For example, let’s say I used my $35 monthly Jukely membership for 2 different shows in a given month. I would write the cost as $17.50 per show, but one of those shows could have had a face value of $10. That looks like a loss, even if the other show had a face value of $80 and so clearly I still came out on top for the month.
  • Insert praise hands emoji here for finally having Webster Hall not be my #1 venue (I love you, Brooklyn Bowl)

And as in previous years, here are some of my favorite post-show comments from my tracking spreadsheet:

“Robotaki was pretty solid deep house (did I just say that?)”

“TECHNICAL PROBLEMS JESUS.”

“The opening chick was a little weird with her body slapping and her tap dancing.”

“He’s so small and old. Good times though, fun and polite crowd.” (Paul Simon!)

“Bleep Bloop hahah”

“Robby Krieger looks so damn frail it’s crazy to watch him shred the guitar.”

“This was the Brooklyniest party pretty much ever.”

“Also, I think he’s Benjamin Button” (Billie Joe Armstrong)

“They had an inflatable dragon!? Like…what.” (Beats Antique)

“It was kind of funk-house, which is a new genre I made up.”