Summer makes it hard to breathe

June 29, 2010

Almost a month of summer break has passed and I really haven’t done much. I keep thinking about this year’s Warped Tour. I know who I’m seeing and what to expect. If I could only see one band it would have to be You Me At Six. Though I plan on getting in line early so I can see Mayday Parade, Emarosa, VersaEmerge, Pierce The Veil, Automatic Loveletter and maybe a couple of hardcore bands because their fans are usually fun to be around. I’m going with Taylor and Kenzie and maybe her boyfriend Tyler oh and I might meet up with my concert buddy who I’ve ran into a couple times, Kelvin. Warped has to be great this year even if Underoath won’t be there.

I wake up late and watch reruns of “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” the real Avatar that is. I keep peace between my younger siblings and keep the house somewhat clean. My poor dogs are wining because they can’t go outside because our neighbor is tearing her fence down. Did I tell you I got another dog? His name is Zeus and ironically he’s terrified of thunder storms. He is that brindle color and looks really strong but he’s the biggest baby. I love him.

I haven’t been asked to babysit nearly at all this summer, but I guess that’s alright because for the first time in a whole year our family has a little extra money. So my parents agreed to help out with Warped Tour expenses in exchange for my watching the kids every day. Fair enough.

Next month I’m going to be spending a week with my favorite cousins in their giant house topped off with an in ground swimming pool and a trampoline. They live in this suburban neighborhood which is a nice change so I can roam the neighborhood on my own without shoes! I’ll probably see Kenzie and swim a lot (I dislike swimming in public pools because there are too many people and a feel weird wearing a bathing suit). It’ll just be a nice escape. Oh and Jane might take me out sometime this week or the next.

When I get bored I come downstairs into our little office and pull up my iTunes on the computer and create playlists. Right now I’m making a playlist titled “Summer.” It’s going to be a playlist full of songs that sound like summer (in case that wasn’t obvious).

Here is what on the playlist so far:

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Cage the Elephant concert

June 28, 2010

I burst through the door of our office screaming at my dad, “HE HELD THIS HAAAND!” shoving my left hand in his face. That’s all I could think to do with uncontainable energy spilling words of awe out of my mouth. I had just witnessed a Cage the Elephant concert for the second time, the second time I was in the front row, and the first time I ever met the lead singer, Matt Shultz. I am somewhere on cloud nine, not wanting to wash Matt’s sweat from my left hand. – My mind keeps wandering back to holding his hand during the show, I squeezed his hand and he squeezed back as other people of the audience tried to cling to his arm. I wish we could have been inseparable, breaking all clocks to be frozen in time holding onto his sweating hand.

But let’s start at the beginning.

I showed up outside of the Beaumont Club two whole hours early. (Thinking about it after the show now, I’m glad I showed up early otherwise I would have nearly passed out in middle of the crowd.) I was waiting outside of the venue with my mom and my friend Taylor when I caught sight of Matt Shultz pacing past their tour bus talking on the phone. After I heard Matt murmur, “I love you too,” into his cell phone he bowed his head and started to walk on. I stopped him and said, “Can I just say hi because I think you’re really awesome.” He looked up and smiled, the parentheses around his mouth became more defined on his strong square chin. He stuck his hand out and I introduced myself, “I’m Phoenix.” He looked right at me through his Ray-Bans.
“Phoenix, I’m Matt.” His smile made my insides squeal with that happy fuzzy feeling. He continued to exchange introductions with my mom and Taylor. Then I spoke again smiling and told him I was so excited for the show I arrived at five. (The doors opened at 7:00PM.)
“Yeah?” he sort of trailed off and finished still smiling, “Awesome.” (My mom also noted we saw them last November and how amazing of a show it was and he thanked her.) After that he told us he had to leave for Cage’s soundcheck but I had already determined the show would remain a lasting memory.

Front row and center most literally I stood and frowned at the huge barricades keeping me from grabbing hold of Matt. AutoVaughn were the only openers for Cage because the 22-20’s had come down with an illness. AutoVaughn gave us a show. The guys chased each other across the stage dueling with their guitars. The lead singer often added little remarks like, “If you guys are into that kind of thing,” in a lighthearted tone after introducing the title a song and its meaning. The lead guitarist of AutoVaughn, Steven Wilson would jerk his neck to the beat moving his feet around with mad skills of some modern dance, scuffing his shoes. He told the crowd that they were preparing us mentally, physically, and spiritually for Cage the Elephant to blow our minds. I believed it when his guitar would plink out solos, his fingers washing across the neck of his bandaged mint green guitar skillfully, easily. They closed their set with “Hell of a Place” and carried the song on with the sound of our clapping and improvised guitar jams.

Matt Shultz in short is “mad as a hatter, thin as a dime.” When Cage walked onto the carpeted stage in almost total darkness I screamed. Cage hurled into the first song “Dr. Dr. Dr.” Matt shook wildly flailing his arms in different directions. He screamed into the microphone his words incomprehensible but the guitars screamed back licks that sounded like heavy southern punk. The guitars echoed the fast paced beat of the drums. I kept reaching out to him hopeful but his hand was bunching up the fabric of his shirt. I am sure that he looked right at me underneath his heavy lids a couple times. He recognized me, I thought. Then finally during one of the songs Matt thrust his hand out. In that moment I slapped my hand onto his and squeezed. He squeezed back while other people in the crowd clung to his slick arm, he just kept singing.

The push of the crowd was terrifying. I constantly had to push back so my lungs didn’t get crushed. Being in the front row and in the center I was kicked in the head easily more than eight times by crowd surfers. I was dizzy and my head hurt, my curly hair gone frizzy but I kept singing the lyrics I knew (which wasn’t many considering Cage played so many new songs). I kept thinking I am going to die. I am trapped and I can’t even climb over the barricades or push through the crowd to get out. In line of the last song before the “In One Ear” and “Saber-Tooth Tiger” encore, “Sell Yourself” bent over after stage diving Matt looked at me and screamed into the mic, “Save yourself!”

After the show I met the guys from AutoVaughn. Darren the lead singer asked, “What’s your name?” as I handed him the CD I had just bought from their merch table.
“Phoenix,” I answered.
“Spelled like the city?”
“Yeah.”
“With an extra ‘X’,” my mom added, smiling.
“Boom!” Darren said pointing to the little note scribbled into the liner notes of the CD. When I met Steven I told him he had mad feet dancing skills. “Yeah? I don’t even realize it. I’ve never been able to dance for my life,” he replied.
“Well now you can!” I said. I made movements to exaggerate his feet movements.
“Kickin’ shit and stuff,” he said nodding his head.

I had left the venue, knowing there was no re-entry. I said goodbye to Taylor as her dad’s car pulled up to the curb of the street. Then I saw it. A small group of people huddled around something, or someone. “Can you move over Matt?” one of their crew members said pushing a luggage cart loaded with instrument cases. I saw Matt signing and taking pictures, grinning and laughing with fans. I wanted in on it though our first encounter was more intimate. I wanted a picture to remember it by. – I watched the fans as I waited my turn for a picture. A girl muttered something about not being cool and then Matt said to her, his tone changed to be more serious, “Don’t sell yourself short. Don’t… don’t do that.” – After I got my picture I opened the car door and said in a daze, “That was… amazing.”

It’s official. Cage the Elephant did indeed blow my mind.

(Pictures)


HOLY mountain show

June 9, 2010

I could kiss the sounds. As if time could meld into the body of the music. It rests so undecided in the different realms of time. We may not remember our thoughts in or from those moments, they were so clear yet hung so loosely as if I could pull them from a tree like leaves. Or erase them into the sound, finally understanding the sound of separation; understanding a piece of a bigger picture that remained invisible to all that were fragile and close minded. The music simply acted as a guide and a vent for all the unknown feelings we were experiencing. For all that could not be spoken. It is true, silence is dry and sound is wet.

Last night I saw HOLY Mountain again for the fourth time (and counting) at the Main Street Cafe. In short it was spectacular.

The Main Street Café is set up to look like a miniature house party. Couches and chairs are placed around the stage (some of these were held together by duct tape). A nice rug is covering almost the entire floor. The stage is small and as far as stages go, cozy. You could probably sit right in front of the speakers if you wanted. There was such a positive mellow atmosphere in that room with a bunch of little indie kids.

During the fourth band’s sound check Elisha strode over to me. I was sitting on a small love seat near the stage staring at my hands when I saw someone else’s hand. Elisha handed me another one of their demo CDs and said, “Here, this is for you.” I turned to look at him kneeling next to me on the couch. “Oh hey, hi,” I smiled. I felt gauche, but this time I wasn’t hypnotized from his scent so much as to stumble over my own words. He nodded his head and said, “It’s really good to see you here.” It looked uncomfortable kneeling on the floor so I asked if he wanted a seat on the couch. I swore I could have heard him almost say, “Oh no thanks hon,” like I was his kid sister or something. A guy walked over to us and gave us a handout. “This is for you guys,” the guy said. He shook both of our hands, asked our names, and introduced himself as Jessie. He had sandy blonde hair parted to the left with a swoop. He had a firm handshake and a nice smile. He was very cute. After that Elisha and I made small talk before he had to get ready for their set.  I asked if he’d ever played the venue before. Elisha told me he didn’t like performing at the Main Street Café because they were too unorganized and he needed for venues to be organized. I introduced him to my mom and found out he liked drawing and quiet time to think to himself. It was so simple and perfect.

Every time I see HOLY Mountain it is something different. I notice an improvement in the way they go about performing their music. The simple notes may change varying on what mood they are in. Sometimes they change the timing on the songs. Every note they play sounds better live; enriched and amplified in sound. I try and let the eminent sounds of the guitars and crooning voices sink into me. They opened with “Slam Dunk Giant” (my second favorite HM song) complete with a cardboard cut-out of Michael Jordan on stage. Carlos’s hair swung wildly in front of his face when he would slam into the fast guitar bridge.

Before HOLY Mountain played their third to last song they told everyone it was called “In Time.” Then unexpectedly Elisha leaned over the mic and said, “This one goes out Phoenix because she’s been to a lot of our shows and I like seeing her out there.” I smiled and blushed Bella red. It was funny because I could feel the audience look over like, who is Phoenix? After that Carlos added a few more names and said, “You guys can just shout your names.” Everyone cheered, but it didn’t degrade what Elisha had said. Not one bit.