Thursday, April 26, 2012

I went to 3 Blackhawks Playoff games and they lost all of them because I'm from Cleveland.

Well, the Chicago Blackhawks are the only team I love that ever makes it to the playoffs. Literally. So this year, excessive excitement encouraged me to attend every Round One home game. And while the series (against the Phoenix Coyotes) was close, the Blackhawks managed to lose every single home game, which is practically unheard of given that the Madhouse on Madison is one of the toughest arenas for visiting teams. Hopefully I have not brought the Cleveland curse to my beloved Blackhawks. Despite the losses, Blackhawks games are always fun to attend - the atmosphere is unmatched. Below are photos that I took throughout the course of my three-game residency at the United Center. Next year, year.

Many Blackhawks fans begin their night by grabbing a "cheezborger" at the Billy Goat Tavern (made famous through a John Belushi "Saturday Night Live" skit). 

One of traditions that makes home Blackhawks games so unique is Jim Cornelison's singing of the "The Star-Spangled Banner." The crowd cheers throughout it and seeing it live is really moving.

We were hoping to get another one of these this year...

Instead we got a lot of this: bad calls (and non-calls) by the refs and, consequently, completely exasperated fans and players.

So I drank a lot of these.

And the players did a lot of this.

And the cameramen took naps during the breaks. 

Bonus highlight: Regina Taylor shooting the puck for the Ovarian Cancer Symptom Awareness Organization! Regina is OCSA's national spokesperson and I'm their official photographer (and also do social media and event planning for them), so it was an awesome surprise to see her representing the organization at Game 4.

At least we got some goals. 

The coolest cat in the building.

Until next year...

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

SBTRKT and Willis Earl Beal

I can't explain how excited I was to see SBTRKT live. I spent my winter looking forward to the show in April at the House of Blues Chicago. His self-titled debut album has been on my iTunes "Top Played" list ever since its June 2011 release. The day of the concert finally arrived, and I'm pleased to report that SBTRKT did not disappoint - at all. In fact, I'd see him live again in a heartbeat. He was accompanied by Sampha, who does the majority of the vocals for SBTRKT, and he sounded just as good live as he does on the album. Near the end of their set, they surprised the audience by bringing out local rapper, Rockie Fresh, for a song. Chicago's own Willis Earl Beal opened the show. He put on a powerful, minimalist show - just his voice, some backup recordings, and his odd stage antics. Boy does he have a voice - but the young, drunken crowd was ready to dance so unfortunately I don't think they appreciated Beal's unique, soulful performance as much as I did. 

Willis Earl Beal 


Monday, April 16, 2012

Neon Indian and Friends

I have seen Neon Indian live more than a few times and they always know how to bring the party. Last weekend was no exception. Their music is psychedelic and upbeat. It makes me want to dance. It also makes me long for summer, when you can drive with the windows down blasting dance music. So naturally, Neon Indian is a great band to see in the spring because the anticipation of summer is only heightened. Bring on the season of sunshine and outdoor music festivals! It's gonna be a good one too. Friends, a Brooklyn band, opened for Neon Indian at the Metro. Between their vixen lead singer's captivating stage presence and their awesome cover of INOJ's "Love You Down," I was sold. 

 Friends. See what I mean? Vixen.


Neon Indian

 Neon Indian himself: Alan Palomo.

Last time I saw Leanne Macomber (Neon Indian keyboardist), she was not attempting to copy her look from Alice Glass of Crystal Castles.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Youth Lagoon and Porcelain Raft

April has been a great music month for me so far. I've been waiting for what feels like a long time to see a few of the acts rolling into Chicago this month. The first of those acts was Youth Lagoon, who I caught at the Metro last week. Youth Lagoon is the musical venture of Trevor Powers, although if you've listened to his 2011 debut album, The Year of Hibernation, you might think that he was a full band. The album is dreamy, melancholy, and emotional, but mostly it's just plain beautiful music. Live, it's simply gorgeous - mesmerizing even. Powers, who was accompanied by a guitarist, said very little to the crowd, and instead focused on putting all of himself into every lyric, every note. It was a lovely set. Porcelain Raft opened for Youth Lagoon and I made a point to get there early to check him (Mauro Remiddi) out because I'm a fan of his debut album, Strange Weekend. And while Porcelain Raft was decent live, it is Youth Lagoon that I'll remember.

Porcelain Raft (Mauro Remiddi)

Porcelain Raft's touring drummer was actually really fun to watch because of his intensity. He didn't stop moving - and at one point was chugging a beer and banging on the drums at the same time. Clearly he's multi-talented.

more Porcelain Raft

Youth Lagoon (Trevor Powers)

Friday, April 6, 2012

Nikki's Bebe Shower

Remember my prego best friend, Nikki? Well, a couple weekends ago I went home to Cleveland for her baby shower, which I co-hosted with my friend, Katie. Now, I normally wouldn't post photos from a party, but Katie put so much work into the decor that it was like walking into a spread in Elle Decor, so I felt compelled to share some photos. It was a French Country-themed Bebe Shower. Aside from hand-making the majority of the decorations, Katie's attention to details was uncanny as you can see below. Kate, this is your new calling.

See what I mean?! Notice the paper garland on the wall - yeah Kate made that.

A closer shot of the paper garland. As you can see, it was made from old books.

See the French banner? Kate made that too...along with the other ones dispersed throughout the room. Each had an endearing French phrase such as "I love you," "Dream," "I adore you," etc.

The mother-to-be's place setting. Each guest had their own set of unique vintage china plates, a mason jar water glass, and a fresh cut flower tucked into the napkin twine. The grandmother-to-be made all-natural soaps, lotions, and powder for all of the guests (her products are fantastic and I strongly encourage you to check them out here). I made a "Songs for Baby Z" CD for all the guests as well.

The CD I made began with Nikki and John's wedding song (Taj Mahal's "Loving in My Baby's Eyes") and carried on from there, each song chronicling their journey towards parenthood. If you want the track list, feel free to email me.

The champagne table. 

Another view of the place settings. 

Another view of the room. 

Great speech and touching moment between mother and daughter.

My friends Heather and Dave's son, Cameron, doing his best Zoolander impression.

Congrats Nik and John! Can't wait for the arrival of Bebe Parker!!

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Black Keys

As I explained in my Fiona Apple post, I was planning on attending The Black Keys show at the United Center when I got a call from my friend saying she had a ticket to see Fiona Apple at an intimate venue. The thought of missing either show was not appealing, so I opted to figure out a way to attend both. And I did...and it was awesome. 

Now, there will always be a special place in my heart for my Akron boys because, well, they're from Ohio. And while not everyone who grows up in Ohio rocks, The Black Keys certainly do. Their no-frills, straight-up blues rock has catapulted them into stardom - and for good reason. While I would have preferred to see them at a smaller venue, they still managed to dominate the massive United Center, with Patrick Carney pounding away on the drums and Dan Auerbach belting out vocals and jamming all over the stage in his Kent State shirt. The new addition of their touring members, a keyboardist and a bassist, helped to fill out the sound. Party on, fellas.