The List: 20 Awesome Things at Concerts

Despite what many people think, I don’t spend all of my time thinking/reading/talking about music. In fact, one of my favorite websites has nothing to do with music; it’s a blog called 1000 Awesome Things. The site is basically a list of things that the author finds, well, awesome. He started at #1000 and counts down another one every weekday. The list includes things like “finding money you didn’t even know you lost” and “shooing a fly outside without having to kill it.” Many of them are laugh-out-loud-funny. All of them are totally true.

He’s got a few awesome things that have to do with concerts: “the moment at a concert after the lights go out and before the band comes on stage,” “the moment at a concert when the crowd figures out what song they’re playing” and “singing in the car on the way home from the concert.” All awesome, right? Here’s another twenty.

#1 When you get an actual ticket
Not that 8.5×11 piece of paper with a barcode on it that you print out at home. I mean a real ticket. Something with a cool design that you can put on your bulletin board or use as a bookmark.

#2 Opening bands that don’t suck.
I knew there was a reason I came two hours early to this thing. Extra points if you’ve never even heard of the openers before.

#3 The crowd chanting in unison.
It doesn’t matter what they’re saying. Chanting rules. The only thing better than chanting is….

#4 When the band stops playing and the whole crowd sings that part anyway
We all know the words. Everybody let it out.

#5 Recognizing your favorite song from the first note
Wow. I’ve listened to that track way too many times.

#6 When you’re all the way at the front and someone from the stage pours cold water in your mouth
I was about to go spend $6 and lose my spot at the front. Thanks, guy on stage!

#7 When the corwdsurfer goes right over you
If you’ve ever had someone land on your head and give you a mini-concussion then you can really appreciate a near-miss.

#8 Bumping into people you’re sorta friends with and realizing you like the same music and should hang out more
You love these guys, too? You were at that other concert a month ago? …so what are you doing after the show? (By the way, it’s totally fair game to judge people on what they listen to.)

#9 That part in between the main set and the encore when everyone knows what’s coming but the band is just killing time backstage
Time for more chanting?

#10 Cover songs
Hit or miss, really. But when they hit…awesome!

#11 When you see your friend all the way across the venue and think you’ll never make it over there but then finally do
Like a mini-version of The Odyssey, but with a better soundtrack. Warning: making the journey and realizing your “friend” is actually just a t-shirt on top of a garbage can is incredibly un-awesome.

#12 When the DJ samples something you recognize

It’s usually a rap song from three years ago you didn’t even like, but for some reason it sounds awesome right now.

#13 Seeing that annoying kid get thrown out

#14 When the band refers to the city you’re in by name
Sure, he gives the same speech at every tour stop. But it still feels special.

#15 Seeing a video or listening to an mp3 of the concert you were at
It’s the closest you’ll ever get to experiencing that night again. People who weren’t there think it’s just another low-quality recording. They missed out.

#16 Getting on stage
Even better: narrowly avoiding the fat security guard and jumping back into the crowd.

#17 Epic openings
It builds and builds and builds until….awesome!

#18 Really good acoustics
How did the sound engineers make this abandoned pretzel factory sounds so good?

#19 When the performers are dressed up
Cool t-shirts, masks or costumes…the whole thing is just a lot more fun.

#20 Finally making it home and changing out of those clothes
It’ll take three wash cycles to get rid of that concert-sweat-and-cigarette smell.

If you’re looking for a song to use for an epic opening (see #17), try either of the two below. They both follow the same format: a non-dance song that slowly builds and then drops into a very heavy beat. These songs are actually so “epic” that I’ve had them backfire at a couple of gigs. They build for so long that sometimes the crowd gets annoyed and adopts a just-play-some-dance-music-already attitude. Other times I’ve opened with these and the whole place went nuts. Good luck, and have something loaded on the other deck just in case you need to do a quick emergency crossfade.

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Larry Tee – Carmina Burana vs. I Love U (Bart B. More Remix)

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Mustard Pimp – Gold!

The List: Five Resolutions for 2010

Calvin and Hobbes New Year's Resolutions Cartoon

I realized this morning that I hadn’t made any New Year’s resolutions. I know it’s been 2010 for more than a week now, but I feel like I missed out. So I reevaluated the last twelve months, reconsidered the choices I made and vowed to make some improvements in my life. Here are five New Year’s resolutions I came up with. And they have nothing to do with exercising more, smoking less or paying off credit card bills.


1) I will listen to more new music.

I listen to a lot of music. But I mostly listen to what I already know and love. Call it Pareto Listening—I spend 80% of my time listening to 20% of my music. The same albums get played over and over. Sometimes when I really love a song, I’ll loop only that one track. (It’s enough to drive most people crazy; my roommates are lucky I use headphones.)

As a blogger I listen to everything sent my way. But the volume of music I come across is so overwhelming that I’m always behind. Keeping up with new music is a Sisyphean task. As soon as I think I’m up-to-date, I discover something else I haven’t heard. All these year-end lists I’ve read about the “best CDs/New Artists/Songs of 2009” are making me depressed. I haven’t listened to half of this stuff. Has there really been so much amazing music this year that I don’t know about? I really gotta step up my game and pass along my favorites.

2) I will see more live shows.

I used to have a “live music above all else” policy. It didn’t matter if it was a basement show with shitty sound and more people in the band than in the crowd, I’d take that over a party on Saturday night. I was at a show every single week. Now it’s barely once a month. That’s definitely not enough. There’s something magical about live music. And it’s easy to tell who’s really talented when you see him on stage. So this year I’m gonna go out to more shows like I used to. In fact, I’m making two more concert-related resolutions right now.

Concert Blue Lights

3) I will see a concert alone.

This is something I’ve only done twice in my life (both the result of a friend bailing last minute when I was already at the venue). But both shows were fantastic. I listened more closely and more critically than I usually do. And I ended up meeting some cool people who were into the same music. We all hit up another show about a month later. (I know, something about going to a concert alone feels weird at first. But give it a try.)

4) I will travel for a concert.

Remember than Seinfeld episode where George combines his three passions—food, sex and T.V.—to form the “trifecta”? That’s how I feel about this resolution. After live music, my second passion is traveling. It makes sense to combine them, right? I already did it once. This past March I traveled to Mexico City to see Radiohead, carefully planning my trip around the band’s schedule. It was fantastic. I think every vacation can be improved with an awesome concert. There’s a ton of places I want to visit that have booming electronic music scenes—England, Australia, Japan, France. So I’m not going to skim past those foreign dates on the tour poster anymore. I’m gonna start looking at plane tickets.

5) I will finish watching The Wire.

I’m halfway through season four. This is the year.

I Heart Bmore

In accordance with resolution #1, I spent the day digging a ton of Baltimore club songs. I love that this type of music jumps around so much. Short songs, fun loops, fast drums. It’s great music for hanging out, but it’s also danceable without being too heavy.

I’m in the middle of putting together a bmore set and I can’t wait to drop both of these songs in there. The first is a classic that I’ve been trying to find for months. If you’re at all into the Baltimore scene, you’ll recognize it instantly. The second is a fun track that loops James Brown’s vocals (Yeah! Get down!) and some disco synths on top of syncopated drums. I’m starting to think that any James Brown track can be “Baltimored” with the right drumbeat.

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Jimmy Jones & Booman – Watch Out For the Big Girl

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Doo-Dew Kidz – James’ Revenge

The List: Nine People We Hate at Dance Parties

Every genre of music has an ideal listening environment. Classical is best heard at a smyphony. Arena rock should be heard at, well, at a large arena. Electronic music? Nothing beats a dance party. But whether you’re a club person, a bar junkie or a house party lover, you’ve probably encountered a lot of obnoxious people during your nights out. Below are nine of the people we hate most in no particular order.

Got any good ideas for future lists you’d like to see? Send them over.


Let's Party Splash

1:  The guy who takes his shirt off

Surprise! It gets hot on a crowded dance floor. People are dancing and sweating and bumping into one another. You’re probably going to be uncomfortably hot. But when did it become acceptable for a guy to remove clothing? It’s fine to take off your shirt if there’s a chance you might go swimming. Nothing wrong with getting a head start at the beach or at a pool party. But if you’re indoors and just want to “cool off” a little bit? Too bad. Keep your shirt on. Please.

Even worse is that this trend has a tendency to spread. If one guy takes his shirt off, the rest of the dance floor takes it as a green light to follow suit. Soon, there’s a whole group of dudes waving their shirts around above their heads. They also tend to be the guys who spend a little too much time at the gym. Sure, you work out and have a six-pack. Show it off somewhere else. And I’m not just saying this as a guy. Girls don’t like it either, despite what you might think.


2:  The guy who keeps asking for a cigarette

Nope, I didn’t have one an hour ago when you asked me the first time. I still don’t have one. Either buy a pack or quit. Just please stop asking everybody. Warning: this person is almost always one of those I-only-smoke-when-I’m-drunk guys.

Crowded party 

3:  The guy who wants to mosh

All the punk-rockers-turned-electronic-musicians were a breath of fresh air for the music scene. Unfortunately, those artists brought their fans with them. And those fans brought their “dancing” style. Nothing’s more annoying than a group of people on a dance floor suddenly forming a circle to push each other around and throw wild punches.

The only nice thing about a moshpit is that it’s unsustainable. Sometimes the moshers hurt each other and have to stop after an injury. Usually, they just get obnoxiously drunk before eleven and run out of energy sometime around 1AM. Keep the party going long enough and the moshpit will self-destruct. Always. Call it the fundamental law of moshing.


4:  The guy who keeps talking about how wasted he is

We get it. You’re drunk. You like being drunk and you want everyone to know that you’re totally out-of-your-mind smashed. But stop telling us how much alcohol is in your system. Chances are, we’re drunk, too. And even if you’re on your thirtieth shot of hard liquor, we’re still not impressed.


5:  The guy who freaks out when anyone gets within ten feet of his girlfriend

These guys are annoying all the time, but they’re especially bad at parties. I don’t know why you came to this party. You’re not drinking. You’re not dancing. You’re not even talking to anyone. If anyone gets near your girl, you totally snap into a possessive, controlling anger freak. This “tough guy” (TG) usually has conversations that go like this:

Me: “Hey Sarah. What’d you think of the calculus test?”
TG: (interrupting) “What the fuck did you just say to her?”
Me: “Uhh, I was asking about Wednesday’s midterm.”
TG: “You know that’s my girl, right? Step off.”

If your girlfriend drags you to a party, at least do your best to act like you’re having fun. And don’t be surprised if she gets hit on. It’s a party.

Party Animal

6:  The guy who’s a little too old to be here

This one only really just applies to college parties. Once you graduate, any age is fair game. But when you’re an undergrad, even thirty-year-olds seem ancient. It’s awkward for everyone when the didn’t-you-graduate-like-ten-years-ago? crew shows up at a frat house. Or when last year’s graduating class comes into town and thinks they still run the school. If you’re not in college, you shouldn’t be at a college party.


7:  The beer snob

No, the keg isn’t filled with imported beer. That vodka you’re drinking? It probably came from a plastic bottle. What were you expecting? There’s a hundred people at this party and the hosts wanted to throw down without going broke. Stop talking about how you’d rather have an expensive bottled IPA instead of Pabst Blue Ribbon. And here’s a steadfast party rule: if the beer’s free, you’re not allowed to complain about it.

 DJ cartoon-style

8:  The guy who keeps giving the DJ advice

The DJ knows what he’s doing. Stop standing behind him and staring at his Serato Screen like you’re completely entranced. Stop giving him requests. Stop asking him what he’s going to play next. He doesn’t like it and just can’t think of a polite way to tell you to leave. These wannabe-hanger-on-DJs are also usually members of the I’m-too-cool-to-dance crowd, who cover their shyness by pretending to be deeply engrossed in the DJ setup. If there’s not DJ at the party, look out for his close relative: the I’m-going-to-stand-by-the-iPod-all-night guy.


9:  The guy trying to have an “intellectual” conversation.

I’ve got opinions on controversial issues, too. Abortion, health care, religion, politics. But these topics have no place at a party. I came to dance and enjoy the music, not debate the merits of capitalism. It’s hard enough to have a conversation over a thumping beat. Either don’t say anything or keep the conversation simple.

The only thing more annoying is that one guy who thinks he’s being deep while he’s actually just spouting out incoherent drunk-talk. You know the ones I’m talking about: it’s three in the morning, he’s hammered, and he thinks he’s finally figured it all out. He uses phrases like “it all makes sense now” and “I can’t believe I never realized that before.” His solution to a big problem is usually some variation of the phrase “everybody should just chill out.” Nope, you didn’t just figure out how to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. You just forgot how much you drank and thought you were making sense.


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N.A.S.A. – N.A.S.A. Music (LA Riots Remix)