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!).

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Music Genres Are Getting Out of Control

When I was looking at my Spotify Year in Review I noticed one particularly hilarious segment: the list of the most popular genres of 2017.

I probably don’t even need to say much more on this because you can see my comments above. But…guys. I think we’re getting a little out of hand with our genre labeling. I totally get that it isn’t enough to have pop, rock, rap, and maybe a handful of others. It’s not just “house” it’s “deep house” or “tropical house” or “electro-house” or a bajillionty other types of house. But is there no end to the madness?!? WHAT DOES “SERIALISM” EVEN MEAN? “Vintage Swoon”???????????? Come on. Come ON.

I’ve written about the insanity of genre labels before, specifically when it comes to the dance music world. You can check out my handy-dandy very official “Which EDM Sub-Genre Are You?” infographic that tells you in absolutely definitive terms which genre you are as a person!

If anyone would like to recommend to me their favorite jumpstyle artists, I’m all ears.

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?

 

Nobody Listen to Techno (At Least Not Me)

A few days ago I was watching the incredible FKJ, or French Kiwi Juice, at work. FKJ is an electronic music producer who creates beautiful, mostly mellow tunes and who sings and plays a ton of different instruments during his live performances. He is an undeniably creative and skilled musician and even if you don’t like his style of downtempo music you absolutely cannot deny his talent.

As I stood there watching this show in awe I had the same thought that I often do, which is, “Why do people think I listen to bad music?”

Except I already know the answer. And that answer is “techno.”

“Techno,” I’ve come to realize, is the blanket term that people who don’t listen to electronic music use to describe electronic music. And I don’t mean that they use it to describe ALL of electronic music; just the type of electronic music that goes untz untz untz untz. Which, unfortunately, is what a lot of people think all of electronic music is.

What people don’t realize is that music produced electronically can, and does, sound like anything. Certainly there is untz untz as far as the eye can see but there is also electro-pop and electro-hip-hop and electro-rock which for whatever reason seems to always be called its full name, “electronic rock.” Electronic music is the chicken of the music world; you can flavor it however you like.

Which brings me back to techno. Though I do listen to a little bit of untz untz music I actually don’t listen to techno at all. Because you see, all techno is untz untz music but not all untz untz music is techno (we’re getting into some very official music theory terminology now so I hope I don’t lose anyone). So it is very true that techno, however broadly or not-broadly you want to define it, is not the crux of my taste in music. Yet this is what some people think of in reference to music that was created largely on computers. Occasionally someone might reference that I listen to techno, and, cool as the cucumber I am most definitely not I just let it slide even though what I would really love to do is guide people down the path of electro-soul or livetronica.

So people think I listen to techno but really they probably mean house music and even that is not even totally accurate because now I’m going to make it all official with a fancy Venn diagram that I made using very elite design software.

Here is the in-depth analysis of the diagram:

  • Not all electronic music is dance/untz untz music.
  • Not all dance music is techno.
  • Within the realm of electronica, not all of what I listen to is untz untz.
  • None of what I listen to is actual techno.

Acknowledging all of this, I’m still going to continue using “techno” the way the masses do, which is, to describe dancey electronica. Moving on.

I wouldn’t necessarily have a problem with people thinking I listen to techno except for the fact that no one likes or respects techno except the people who listen to it. Whenever I read internet comments about electronic music events from non-attendees it’s never with a tone of excitement, curiosity, or anything remotely positive. No one ever says, “Man it was so great having that event right in my back yard, I got to listen to such cool music for free!” People who don’t listen to techno think it’s just beats or noise with no musicality and is listened to solely by shitty people, to boot (they are at least occasionally right with regard to any of the above points).

On the one hand, I totally get it – dance music in general is something of an acquired taste. Even after several years of listening to it I haven’t fully acquired it, which is why most of the electronic music I listen to actually just sounds like regular music and not like thumping bass and random screeching sounds. If I were able to indoctrinate more people into the land of the music I actually listen to instead of the music that they think I listen to, they wouldn’t call it techno anymore. They would say, “Wow, this is a pop song that happens to have been created on a computer and it is sooo great. You have excellent taste in music, Arielle!” (This is verbatim what they would say.)

So really what it all boils down to is that Eminem was kind of right in that NOBODY ACTUALLY LISTEN TO TECHNO because techno is not what you think. I’m kidding. Some people actually listen to techno. Just not me.

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

On Repeat: So Much Kesha

I am enamored of Kesha’s new album, my friends. I’ve loved this badass chick for a long time and I’m so happy that she has risen from the ashes of hard times and is back touring and creating music. Her new album “Rainbow” is a pretty solid mix of OG Kesha plus some country twang (I know, it’s great though) and emotional ballads. Here are my current 2 favorites:

Woman
This is the ANTHEM right now. I am woman, hear me roar.  

Rainbow
It’s probably less than once a year that I get attached to feelsy ballads as I’m more of an upbeat music kind of lady. But here we are. This is so moving.

Are you also obsessed with Kesha’s new album? Do you have reasonably priced tickets to either of her upcoming NYC shows that you want to give me (please)? Let’s discuss.

Meadows: The Music (2017)

Meadows Music & Arts Festival, you have captured my heart. 2 years in a row of a successful, relatively hiccup-free event jam-packed with awesome music? So much yes. This was such a treat for me because I don’t go to as many all-genre festivals as electronic ones, so I got to experience some really unique sets. Here come the highlights!

Big Wild
This was an awesome opening to the festival, and extra special because I interviewed him a few hours after his set! He has such a diverse sound and I’m a sucker for an electronic act with live drumming.

Marian Hill
You know Marian Hill from “Down,” the Apple commercial song. I’ve seen them live a few times this year and they always kill it. Their music is super sexy and Samantha, who does their vocals, is badass.

Blood Orange
I first heard of Blood Orange a few years ago because his apartment burned down and my friend’s brother was living in his building at the time. This is a weird origin story, but it’s the truth. I had never really listened to his music at all but since hearing of the fire I continued to hear his name out in the music world more and more until one day I just realized that he’s pretty legit. His performance at Meadows was really something else – part R&B, part pop, and he plays a variety of instruments, both sings and raps, and has a full band backing him. There was a lot going on and it was this really beautifully orchestrated set.

Jay-Z
I sort of forgot about Jay-Z amongst all my excitement about all the other artists on this lineup, and because I haven’t been listening to as much rap music as I used to. This set just felt so HUGE. I loved it. He gave a nice tribute to Chester Bennington and hearing a few Linkin Park mashups was a little heartbreaking.

Big Boi
He played a lot of Outkast songs. Hell yes.

LL Cool J
He has so much swagger and made a great joke about people forgetting he’s a rapper (“What, you think I’m just some dude who hosts the Grammys?”). He brought out DMC for a good chunk of this set and it was like an old school hip hop medley. I kept trying to sit down during this set because I wasn’t feeling well but I couldn’t because I just had to dance it out. 

Big Gigantic
I took the opportunity of seeing one of my favorite electronic acts at a non-electronic festival to be up front at the rail for this set. Usually I’m too old for this but I knew that it would be relatively easy to get a spot there and that most of the Meadows crowd would be at a different stage. It was a great choice and I had a blast. Plus, Jeremy and I were wearing matching sunglasses. 

Weezer
This was the main reason I wanted to go to Meadows in the first place. I have loved Weezer for so long and don’t get the opportunity to see them live very often anymore. Their set was 75 minutes of pure joy for me, even though they glossed over my favorite song through a medley where they only played little snippets of a lot of songs. I FORGIVE YOU, WEEZER. 

Red Hot Chili Peppers
I loved this set, but I did not love it in the way that I thought about it afterward. Maybe I was tired at the end of a 3 day festival, maybe it was annoying being in a crowd of what felt like every single person in all of New York City. RHCP is a classic act and screaming along to songs I’ve loved for years and years was wonderful, but it’s not a set I’ll carry with me as one of the most special I’ve ever attended. Shrug.

Meadows, you did me right. See you in 2018!