Tag Archives: indie

My favorite things: Summer edition

Welcome to NYSummer is in full swing now, and as I sit here in shorts and a tank-top, I find it hard to believe just a few months ago I was bundled up in layer upon layer upon layer. Seasons are crazy, man. Especially when the only seasons you’ve previously known are hurricane season and not-hurricane season. (: I last did a roundup of current obsession in the dead of winter, so I figured it was high time for me to do another one.

1. The Morgan Library & Museum
Morgan LibraryOh my god, I am convinced this place was built just for me. I found out that JP Morgan — ya know, like the supah-famous banker — was a bit of a bibliophile and that nowadays his former home, library and study are a museum open to the public. And on Friday nights, you can get in for FREE-NINETY-NINE. My favorite price of admission! So of course I had to check this place out.

I was fully ready for a Beauty and the Beast-esque moment, in which I saw a glorious three-story private library filled with leather-bound, dusty tomes. But I got so, so much more out of my visit than that. First of all, the library room itself is GUH-OR-GOUS. The detail in the tapestry over the gargantuan fireplace and in the ceiling paintings is of the caliber typically reserved for cathedrals and other such places of worship. And who am I kidding? For me, visiting this library was a religious experience.

The museum is filled with exhibits about the history of the written word, including a Gutenberg Bible — Morgan owned three (!!!) — and a first edition of “The Star Spangled Banner” sheet music, complete with a typo. (Copy editors: important, since ALWAYS.) But the things that moved me most were handwritten drafts, edited galley proofs, journal entries, and personal letters from my favorite authors. The first one I saw was a draft of a Walt Whitman poem. I literally could not breathe when I saw it. I spent a whole semester in college studying Whitman, and to be less than a foot away from a piece of paper he touched was just too much.

I also saw scribbles from the likes of Jane Austen, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and more! I thought my heart was going to explode, I really did. (Hello, Nerdiest Fangirl Ever, Party of One.) The thing that touched me the most about these artifacts were seeing how many revisions and insecurities these now-renowned writers had about their work. We like to think of genius as a gift, of something easy and lucky. But so many of the Great Literary Masterpieces are the product of So. Much. Hard. Work. I was completely floored.

The piece at the museum that was most memorable to me, however, was a collection of fragments of Sappho’s poetry recorded on papyrus in the third century B.C. I could not move when I saw those little scraps of paper. All I could think about was how absolutely incredible it is that humans have been creating stories for much more than 2,000 years, and what’s more, they’ve been so kind as to have them written down to share with others. And I still get to participate in this great scheme of storytelling, every time I edit a Word document or lay out a page in InDesign! I am humbled and blessed and awed. Human beings are amazing.

I just stood there in awe, and this stranger next to me also totally got it and was in awe, and then finally he said, “Absolutely incredible, isn’t it?” And I used all my energy to say, “Yes. Yes, it is.” HUMAN MOMENT OF CONNECTION, RIGHT THERE. I love museums.

 

2. Stay Gold – First Aid Kit

First-Aid-Kit-band-photosI saw these two lovely, folk-singing Swedish sisters at ACL in 2010 on my 21st birthday weekend. They were one of the morning performances, meaning they were not a big deal and pretty undiscovered. Two albums and four years later, they’ve come out with “Stay Gold,” and It. Is. Fantastic. I’ve been listening to it on repeat. These ladies have always had an incredible set of harmonious vocal chords, but they’ve really matured their songwriting with their latest album.

I saw them perform at Webster Hall a month or so ago, and I was blown away by how much their stage presence has developed. Also, they are adorable. They introduce their accompanists in unison and curtsy, etc. Love them! They make me long for a sister I can record albums with.

3. Friday Night Lights

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I can’t believe I’m addicted to a TV show about a fictional high school football team. But at the same time, I totally can. Friday Night Lights is one of the best representations of Middle America I’ve ever seen. I love how Texas-centric this show is (cowboy boots, country music, BBQ, H-E-B, a Dairy Queen thinly disguised as an “Alamo Freeze”), but in so, so many ways the town of Dillon reminds me of my own hometown of Niceville. I mean, we did go to state semi-finals and finals. But in Florida, not Texas. (I sat next to our Lyla Garrity in my Algebra II class, I swear! She was dating an older guy on the football team, was on the cheerleading squad, was the perfectly adorable Christian girl-next-door type, and her dad owned all the McDonald’s in the county.) Part of the reason I never wanted to watch this show, despite both Netflix’s and friends’ recommendations, is because I went to every single home and away football game at my high school as a member of the marching band. Why would I want to watch an imaginary team play?

tumblr_le9sttBSLS1qbujvho1_400Thankfully, this show is about much more than football. My favorite character, hands down, is Tami Taylor, the coach’s wife. She is so flawless as a wife, a mother, a guidance counselor/principal, a friend, a community member, you get the idea. Connie Britton is killing it in this role. Even when Tami makes mistakes, as humans do, Connie’s performance makes me support her 112%. Also, to be honest, I love the way she talks! I wish I could call my husband “hon” and not sound like a total drag queen. Tami & Eric’s marriage is perhaps the most authentic, exemplary  marriage I’ve seen presented on TV. They have their hurdles and challenges, but they are such respectful, loving, and sacrificial partners to each other. I’m not even embarrassed to say I think that they are great role models, even though they’re not…you know…real.

On a slightly more lowbrow note, I wish someone had just said “Google image search ‘Tim Riggins'” to me about five years ago. Case. Closed. Sign me up to watch “this football show.”

tim rigginsSorry, but no one I knew in high school looked like THAT. That would be because this actor is at least five years older than me (nine, to be exact…Lawd!). Also Canadian, not Texan. Behold, the magical delusion of television!

Bonus points to Friday Night Lights for having a character go on to play for Texas A&M and for using actual Texas high school football footage as B-roll. One of my college friends (who, I would like to note, is one of two football players I’ve known who was not a total jerk) appears in the first season this way! Whooo.

But seriously, I cry an average of 1.2493 times per episode because the writing is so good/hormones. OK, and Coach Taylor’s speeches are the real deal. (He reminds me a lot of my high school band director. And I know music programs aren’t sports, but that man would either inspire or beat perfection and ambition into us, so help us, God. There are some teachers who view what they do as a job, and a select few others who few it as a vocation. You’ll know the latter when you meet them within minutes.) Living in a ginormous city, this makes me so nostalgic for small town life, where everyone not only knows everyone, but everyone genuinely cares about everyone. And where everyone is passionate about the same thing, at least for one night a week.

Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t stop watching this show. TEXAS FOREVER, JAY. TEXAS FOREVER, RIGS.

I’ll stop now, I swear.

riggins 3

riggins 4

OK, now I’m for-reals done. I swear I roll my eyes at redneck, alcoholic jocks in real life, but on TV…

 

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Musical equinox

This is us at Radio City Music Hall before the Bon Iver show. Being a cute newlywed couple and stuff.

Sean and I kicked off this autumn of many concerts this past Friday, just before the season officially began, according to astronomy or whatever. I’m pretty sure Bon Iver is the sound of autumn, and since we went to his concert on Friday, that’s when I’m saying is the official start of fall. (Yeah, yeah, I know Bon Iver is a play off “Bon hiver,” which my four college semesters of French tell me means “good winter.” It’s cold weather music, alright?)

Since someone is FINALLY done with the second tax busy season and has managed to escape the all-consuming World of Accounting, we are able to enjoy more of our non-working hours together. And one thing that we both really, really enjoy is going to concerts. Usually my birthday gift involves some form of live music — for my 21st, we went to the ACL Music Festival; for my 22nd (last year), I brought in a new year of life with Austin indie band Quiet Company in downtown Bryan and scored a free T-shirt from the band members for being a birthday girl; and this year for the big two-three, we’re going to see Scottish indie rock band Frightened Rabbit.

I call this one “Poor Quality View of Bon Iver, As Taken Without Flash on an iPhone from the Back of the Second Mezzanine.”

Anyway, we have at least one concert scheduled every month through this December, and we kicked off the season with Bon Iver at Radio City Music Hall. Not your typical concert venue if you’re not going to see a symphony or, uh, the Rockettes, but it was pretty swanky. Definitely worth at least stepping into the lobby for. And Justin Vernon surprised everyone with jazzed-up, rocked-out versions of his typically super-chill tunes.

In case you didn’t know, Bon Iver has made appearances in a few Kanye West songs. I used to think that was weirdly awesome, but I’m gonna have to drop the “weirdly” part of the opinion because apparently they both have a penchant for using lighting effects at concerts that could probably induce epileptic seizures. Like I said, not the super-chill stuff you were expecting.

If you have not yet listened to any of Bon Iver’s music, you really should. You can listen to the song from his first album below and then sing along and imagine hundreds of other people are singing along with you. There, it’s almost like you were at the concert too, huh?

Then on Saturday, we bought fairly cheap last-minute tickets to see the Canadian electronic duo Purity Ring at the Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn. We bought them from some chill hipster dude who also lives in the UES and posted an ad on Craigslist. I know he was a hipster even though Sean went on that errand by himself because he wanted to meet at a bar that serves only crafts beers and, um, hello…he was selling Purity Ring tickets. If you’re going to Craigslist anything, I suggest hipster-ish transactions with hipsters only. You are less likely to get killed this way. (This is also how we obtained used Bose speakers for our turntable.)

This picture is a bit better than my Bon Iver one, since it was general admission and we got there early with the NYU undergrads so we could be near the front.

I have listened to Purity Ring’s debut album, Shrines, like a million times on Spotify in these past few weeks, so it was really awesome to see them live. There were two other electronic dudes who opened for them, and I don’t really know how any of the music I heard Saturday night was made, but I loved it nonetheless. Even though some Cool Asians (using Mean Girls classifications here) danced a little to crazily, and stomped on my foot and caused another girl to accidentally splash beer on my shoes, it was still worth a late night out in Brooklyn, which is a good 30+-minute subway ride away from us. What matters is that I saw two Canadians doing mesmerizing things with lights and computers and special microphones.

Below is a clip from one of Purity Ring’s other shows, and if someone can please explain to me how this all works, that would be awesome:

Other groups we’re seeing this fall: Father John Misty (also known as that one dude from Fleet Foxes), Grouplove, Japandroids, and The Gaslight Anthem, not necessarily in that order. And Frightened Rabbit, as I mentioned before. It’s like football season, only BETTER!!! Because it’s something I actually want to stand around for hours for. (See Texas Aggie traditions: 12th Man.) The best part about all these indie bands is that tickets cost a fraction of what Lady Gaga or One Direction or whoever kids listen to these days would charge you. That, and most of the other people in the audience care deeply about music. I like that.

Just because we’re kind of on the topic and I want to…here is the album cover art for Father John Misty’s Fear Fun, which we got on vinyl somewhat recently. I swear I could stare at it all day, and it will never make any more sense.

Sean and I would much, much rather spend our money on experiences than things, and concerts are our ultimate experience. We don’t have cable, we pack our own lunches for work everyday, and we shop the clothing sale racks and thrift stores. But we are surely going to some concerts. I figure that when I’m 80, I won’t look back and be all “Oh, I had, like, 15 pairs of designer skinny jeans and went to salad bars everyday for lunch and watched every episode of So You Think You Can Dance as it was originally broadcast when I lived in New York and life was awesome.”

No. Just…no.

I’ll say, “I saw all my favorite bands perform live in New York, and that kids, is awesome.”

P.S. If you think two concerts in one weekend is a little excessive (I was afraid it was), I overheard a girl standing behind us at the Purity Ring Show talking about how it was their FIFTH show that week but she had a friend who was going to his SEVENTH. That’s literally a concert every single day for a week. I would say THAT is excessive…but I kinda envy the guy. Where does he find the time? And money? And energy?

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