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.

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The Best of 2018

The time has come to think critically about the shows I saw last year and select the creme de la creme. It’s a tough job, but I’m prepared to do it. Here we go.

Top 10 Shows of 2018 (in chronological order)
1. Emancipator Ensemble – Brooklyn Steel
2. Lorde – Barclays Center
3. Gramatik – Upstate Concert Hall
4. Matt and Kim – Brooklyn Steel
5. Remember Jones (808s and Heartbreak tribute) – Brooklyn Bowl
6. The Glitch Mob – Schimanski
7. Umphrey’s McGee – The Stone Pony
8. Pretty Lights – Red Rocks Amphitheatre
9. Big Data – Gramercy Theatre
10. Manic Focus – Brooklyn Bowl

Top 10 Festival Sets of 2018
1. Rezz – Minus Zero
2. Aerosmith – Jazz Fest
3. Tipper – Camp Bisco
4. The Floozies – Camp Bisco
5. The Funk Hunters – Camp Bisco
6. Big Wild – Camp Bisco
7. Robert Delong – Panorama
8. Odesza – Panorama
9. RL Grime – Hijinx
10. Odesza – Hijinx

10 Worst Shows of 2018
As with last year I’m not doing this list anymore, but believe you me, there were some less than stellar regular concerts and festival sets. Inquire within!

And the award goes to…

Coolest Weather Event
Tipper at Minus Zero. The snow created some seriously beautiful glitter lasers.

Biggest Disappointment
My friend and I missed almost all of Run the Jewels’ opening set for Lorde. For no good reason, we just assumed it would start later. While RTJ was playing we were near the Barclays Center, eating hot dogs at Shake Shack and taking our unfortunate sweet time to go inside.
Runner up: showing up to Lindsey Stirling at the Beacon Theatre and realizing it was a Christmas show.
Second runner up: making it to the Garden in time for Childish Gambino’s encore. At least my ticket was free.

Best Crowd
Minus Zero. I don’t know how a few thousand people dancing outdoors in 15 degree weather could possibly be so happy, but this was the best festival energy I’ve ever experienced.

Weirdest Crowd
The Little Mermen, Gramercy Theatre. The Little Mermen is a band that does rock covers of Disney songs. I probably could have assumed that there are some Disney-obsessed folk out there, but the thought had honestly never crossed my mind until that night. The level of Disney fandom was sort of frightening.

Best Throwback Show
Barenaked Ladies/Better Than Ezra, Coney Island Amphitheatre
Runner up: Everclear at Irving Plaza

Worst Throwback Show
Sheryl Crow at Jazz Fest. From where we were standing it sounded like a recording, although I’m sure it wasn’t.

Most Consistent Performer
RJD2 at Brooklyn Bowl. I saw him play this venue in January 2015, January 2016, and January 2018. The shows were remarkably similar, with the same opening and closing bits, the same guest vocalists doing the same songs, and many of the same tracks. I’m sad he took off in 2017 (and 2019, apparently) because even though the shows were the same, I loved them.

Least Consistent Performer
Remember Jones. The Kanye West tribute at Brooklyn Bowl was my favorite show of the year, hands down. He performed with a 24 piece orchestra and it really brought the 808s and Heartbreak album to life. A few months later I went back for a tribute to Amy Winehouse, and it really fell flat for me.

Most Pleasant Surprise
Walking into the HP pavilion at Panorama to try to get a free water bottle and stumbling upon a completely unadvertised Macklemore DJ set.
Runner up: Hijinx Festival at the Philadelphia Convention Center. I’ll get to writing a festival recap sometime soon, but this event exceeded my expectations in pretty much every way.

20190102_113512

Best Venue (NYC)
The Knitting Factory

Best Venue (Non-NYC)
House of Blues, Houston. I wish we had a HOB here.

Best Non-Typo Typo
Every time I saw a promo for “Sven Lions” I laughed and laughed at how no one noticed or corrected this obvious typo for “Seven Lions.” Until I learned that Sven Lions is Seven Lions’s psy-trance alter ego and it is not a typo at all.

Moment I Would Most Like to Relive Forever
Pretty Lights’s rendition of “Shakedown Street” to close out the first night of Red Rocks.

Don’t forget to check out all my 2018 concert stats over here!

2018, By the Numbers

Today is the day, my friends. The day I get to bust out the spreadsheet I maintain all year with my concert-going data and do some year-end and year-over-year analysis. Spending the day in Excel is a beautiful way to kick off the new year. I’m only kind of joking. Let’s see what happened last year, shall we?

Total shows

60 shows this year. I’m okay with this, despite that the number has dropped significantly since my highest of 115 shows in 2015. I don’t know if I got any sleep that year.

Venues

1 out of every 6 shows I went to was at Brooklyn Bowl, my #1 venue for the third year running. Worth also noting that even though only 1 venue I went to last year has now closed (Output, I’ll miss you!), American Beauty, which was in my top venues list in 2017, also closed in 2018. And Webster Hall just posted on social media that they’re reopening in 2019! I’m excited and afraid to see what the new venue will be like.

Free

I went to 12 shows for free, but for the first time ever, none of the shows I went to for free were actually free. I’m pretty shocked that I somehow didn’t go to any free concerts in 2018 because NYC is usually full of them in the summer. But at least I’m still pretty good at winning tickets to things.

Price

I’m going to say this pretty much every year that this comes up – of the 6 shows I paid more than face value for, all 6 of them were due to me not making full use of my Jukely membership in those months. I pay $35 a month for the service, but in December, for example, I only used it to go to one show, the face value of which was somewhere around $17. It balances out because there are months where I get hundreds of dollars worth of concerts for $35, but I still hate those wasted months.

Artist

ODESZA 4EVER. I didn’t even bother adding the second place artists here because there were a bunch that I only saw twice, which doesn’t always feel significant.

Show days

Pretty impressed that I went to 4 shows in 4 days. I wouldn’t typically count this because 2 of those days were Bungawiz Music Festival and I don’t usually include festival days in the count, but the day after Bungawiz I went to Panorama, and the day after that I went to Kesha and Macklemore on Jones Beach, and all of that involved a lot of traveling, so I’m allowing it.

monts

April has come back from the dead of being my month with fewest shows to my month with the most shows. Well done, April.

1 day

I’ve spent the last few years trying to coordinate a day where I match something I did in 2015 and go to 3 legitimate shows in 1 day. I kind of did it this year but I didn’t stay at the 3rd one for more than a few minutes, so it really shouldn’t count. But I’ve woven it into all my other stats, so…it stays.

And as I always do in this post, here are some highlights from the notes I put into my spreadsheet about the shows I went to:

“I left after the 3rd subpar opening act because it was taking too long and it was too cold for life.” (RZA at City Winery)

“The guy from Zeds Dead turned Eleanor Rigby into a trap banger. He went there.” (I’m still in awe of this)

“I like the weird monster voice thing he does.” (Thriftworks at the Knitting Factory)

“All the hits and some Disney deep cuts.” (The Little Mermen, a Disney cover band, at Gramercy Theatre)

“Man, I think I’m just not that into dubstep anymore. I was just not having any more of those heavy wub wubs.”

“There was a car on fire.” (Twenty One Pilots at MSG)

 

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.

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!).

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.”