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Summer of Song

My very first concert was Disney at the Hollywood Bowl. I was a kid, it was a fun kid event. Next, my family saw a series of Grateful Dead concerts in Las Vegas. I was in junior high. That went about as well as you would expect, for a junior high kid going to a rock concert with her mom. Meaning: I hated every minute of it. I clearly had no idea how rare of an experience it was for someone of my generation to see the Dead live, but I was in junior high. It is what it is.

I remember the first concert I picked. My friend Karla somehow convinced her dad to take us to see TOOL at the Hollywood Palladium on their Aenima tour in 1998. I didn’t even know much about TOOL at the time, but I was ALL into anything Karla was into, and away we went. I remember that show so vividly. We rushed up at the front, right by the stage. It was booming. I remember seeing 20somethings in leather jackets coming in after the opener, and thinking “You bought tickets for this, why would you miss any of it???” I learned to boo the opener. Maynard had some sort of crazy suit getup at some point. I got kicked in the head by some crowdsurfer’s boot.Camera phones were not around at this point, so sadly, the internet isn’t littered with pictures from the show like they are today.

Jane's Addiction, Stage AE 2015

Jane’s Addiction


The day after the show it hit me like a rock to the chest, I could see my idols in the flesh. Like with most high school kids, i built my identity on my music choices. I was big into Nine Inch Nails, Nirvana, Cake, The Offspring, later on Tori Amos. Somehow your music preferences turned into this complex calculation of your social standing in the high school pecking order. Or at least in my mind. In retrospect, it may have all been a massive construction in my mind. It wasn’t until I got to college that I realized I could openly listen to Britney Spears and really, no one cared.  But this is all a digression.

Grace Potter & the Noctunals

Grace Potter & the Noctunals


I grew up in Southern California. About 60 miles from Los Angeles. Every tour came through LA, but for me it might as well have been on another planet, because I was broke high school kid. For most of the time I had no way to get to and from LA, and then once I had my own car, I didn’t have enough money to go anyway, so it was irrelevant. My mom’s boyfriend one year did take me to a Jane’s Addiction show, and again, amazing. Mom took me and my friends to Lilith Fair, and my friend drew the logo on my back. I got sunburned, badly, with the outline of a naked woman etched out.

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga

Pittsburgh is hardly the live music capital of anything.  Plenty of tours come nowhere near here. But when I started college here, some tours DID come through, and in the 15 years I have lived here, I’ve tried to catch every show I can. I devour them.  Maybe I’ve even turned into the leather jacket latecomers, because why would I waste time on an opener? Sometimes it’s a fun night out with friends. Sometimes I go by myself, surrounded by people I ignore as the music throbs.  Bad Religion at Club Laga my freshman year, I just had to walk a few blocks down from the dorms. TOOL again (twice, actually, once at the Civic Arena and once at the Pete). Dave Navarro at Rosebud. Too many Clarks shows to admit to with any dignity. When I studied abroad in Germany– the Rock im Park festival with Placebo, Metallica, Iron Maiden, Marilyn Manson (the most entertaining live music performance). Tori Amos in New York and in LA. Indigo Girls in LA and then in Pittsburgh, twice. The Violent Femmes in LA and Pittsburgh, too (the worst live shows I’ve seen, ever). Jane’s Addiction a couple more times, and then once alongside Nine Inch Nails (my dream concert). Stevie Wonder. Billy Joel. That summer that I had Britney Spears AND Christina Aguilera tickets and then they both cancelled their shows. The Avett Brothers. Death Cab for Cutie, twice (oh, my heart). Arcade Fire. 311. Lady Gaga. Eric Clapton. Fun. Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. Veruca Salt, twice. The Smashing Pumpkins (at 7 months pregnant). Built to Spill. I have to be forgetting some.

I don't even know who this is, but I was in Austin so I went to the Continental Club, and it was wonderful. Dear lord I love the music of that city.

I don’t even know who this is, but I was in Austin so I went to the Continental Club, and it was wonderful. Dear lord I love the music of that city.


The Avett Brothers

The Avett Brothers


Billy Joel

Billy Joel


I fill my Pittsburgh summers with sound. When I was a kid, I had a friend who moved to Las Vegas, and I asked him what he could possibly like about Las Vegas. “Every concert tour starts or ends here,” he said.  I didn’t get it at the time. I do now.

Eric Clapton and Jakob Dylan

Eric Clapton and Jakob Dylan

There aren’t many concerts here in the cold months. There aren’t many concerts anywhere during the cold months, for that matter. But this summer, I am again filling my months up with song.  Janet Jackson. Weezer. Beyonce (TWICE). Ellie Goulding. Maybe even The Avett Brothers. Oh I am ready for summer.



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Race Day Playlist #Army10Miler

Race Day Playlist #Army10Miler

The Army 10 Miler is a little over a week away! I’m getting super excited. I’ve never been to the Pentagon before, and I’m super excited to get to run this exciting race around it. I’m bib number I’m running in honor of my brother, Matthew, who is deploying to Qatar this month. He’s a kid that had a shaky run through high school, but he’s put on his big-boy undies and now is a distinguished soldier, shooting big guns at airplanes. He’s much braver than I’ll ever be. HOOAH!

This week of training has been a tough one. The nights have been creeping in a little earlier, and although sometimes I’ll do a night run on Grandview Ave, I’m really not a huge fan of running in the dark. I’ve been running on the treadmill a lot this week, which is better than nothing, but doesn’t give you the challenges of hills and is also mind-numbingly boring. At least I’m running on something…but I really am looking forward to getting a nice long run in outdoors on Sunday.

In celebration of the upcoming race, here are some race day music essentials. It’s certainly not enough to fill up 10 miles, but it’ll get you started.

Starting Line– to get yourself PUMPED!

Timber by Ke$ha and Pitbull. OMG I CANNOT WAIT TO START THIS RACE.

Problem by Ariana Grande and Iggy Azalea. WHAT WAS I THINKING WHEN I SIGNED UP TO RUN THIS? I DON’T EVEN CARE, THIS IS GONNA BE AWESOOMMMMMMMEEE

First Mile– Ride that enthusiasm, but keep the energy reigned in, so you don’t burn out in the first half!

Black Widow by Iggy Azelea. If this song came out 10 years earlier, it would have been the anthem of my law school years. So many bad decisions. So much crazy and I didn’t even realize it. So much embarrassment all these years later, but whatever. It makes a great song.

Hit ’em Up Style by Blu Cantrell. HEY LADIES

Hard Out Here by Lily Allen. Yesss.

Tempo– Keepin it steady in the long miles of the middle of the race.

Oh No! By Marina and the Diamonds. So much fun!

Change Clothes by Jay Z. So necessary, Ma.

Never Let Me Down by Kanye West, Jay-Z and Ivy. I may be Jewish, but sometimes some PRAISE JESUS music is just what you need. TAKE ‘EM TO CHURCH

LAST MILE– You’re tired and so close! Need that extra little burst to carry you through strong to the end!

Sunday Morning by No Doubt– No song makes me wish harder that I had even the tiniest little shred of musical talent. Those DRUMS!

Boom Clap by Charlii XCX. I am SUCH a sucker for this one. I just can’t not love it, and wanna pick up the pace. THE BEAT GOES ON AND ON AND ON AND ON ON

Lose Control by Missy Elliot ft. Ciara & Fat Man Scoop. Just when you need that last little push, MUSIC MAKE YOU LOSE CONTROL!

Share your race day essentials in the comments!! And wish me luck next week!

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V-Day Miscellany

Happy Valentine’s day! Or as I like to think of it: Happy Chocolate-Has-No-WW-Points day! In the Beez family, we are celebrating the holiday with take-out from Szmidt’s, because nothing says LOVE like lovingly made sandwiches and pierogies. For serious, I am looking forward to dinner tonight big time.

Last week I failed to make a crock pot meal, so I did two this week. The first was Crock Pot Chicken Cacciatore from Skinnytaste. I dumped a bunch of dried red pepper flakes in there, which made the dish even more appealing to Mr. Beez. It was too spicy for me, but I evened that out with a hearty dollop of sour cream. On the whole this recipe rated “Good,” meaning I’ll keep it handy as something to make now and then and mix up the variety, but it hasn’t been one of our absolute favorites.

Crock Pot Chicken Cacciatore

The second crock pot meal was Slow Cooker Loaded Potato Soup from Baked by Rachel. This recipe was supremely easy, and Mr. Beez declared it to be “amazing.” I don’t think he’s ever called anything I’ve made “amazing” before. Not even our kid. He was all sheepish about wanting to eat all the soup, and I was like “listen, it takes like 2 minutes to throw together, and I have all the ingredients to make another pot. Chow down.” Needless to say, this recipe is going to stay in heavy rotation, especially with all these polar vortices we keep having.

Slow Cooker Fully Loaded Potato Soup

Am I the only one who thinks today for whatever reason is a perfect day for ROD STEWART ALL DAY LONG?

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Unlikely Outing for a Tuesday with @thebutterjoint burgers and @nineinchnails

Unlikely Outing for a Tuesday with @thebutterjoint burgers and @nineinchnails

We set plans for Monday to venture to The Butterjoint for burgers with good friends who also have a young daughter. When we arrived there, though, the few tables were completely full and standing around a bar isn’t a workable idea with two small children. We opted for dinner next door at Legume, which was a very lovely and delicious time.

The only downside, is that although you can order from the Legume menu in the Butterjoint, the opposite was not true.  And the very delicious chicken dish did not satisfy my craving for a juicy, buttery burger.  I had been obsessing over a Butterjoint burger ever since reading Quelcy’s write up over at With the Grains.  Mr. Beez indulged me in my crazytown food demands and we returned to the Butterjoint the very next day.  We did, after all, have a grown-up outing planned, and a meal out was much more appetizing than the leftover cauliflower soup in the fridge.

the Butterjoint

My pictures are no match for Quelcy’s but the burger was divine.  They keep it simple– a very high-quality, locally sourced burger, on a soft, buttery brioche bun, and you can either order it “fancy” (their selection of toppings for the day) or pick your own out of a few basic toppings.

the Butterjoint burger

the Butterjoint burger


I like diverse and novel toppings, but the mark of a truly excellent burger is the flavor. When you bite into the burger and everything else falls away except the amazing tastes in your mouth, then yes, the burger is perfect. This burger is perfect. I haven’t gone on a comparative burger tour of Pittsburgh, so I do not know if this is the “best” in the ‘burgh, but I can tell you I want another one right now, and could probably eat these every day and never complain.

The next event was the true purpose of our oddly timed date night– the Nine Inch Nails show at the Petersen Events Center. We saw NIN when they toured last, with Jane’s Addiction, I think in 2009 or so. That show was a double-whammy of amazing.  Likewise, at last night’s show, the performance did not disappoint.

I’ve listened to the new album, Hesitation Marks, a few times and it’s a departure from Trent Reznor’s usual style. Lets put it like this, at the show, the performances of the new songs involved back up singers and Reznor shaking a tambourine. Yes. Tambourine.  But Reznor was smart to kick off the show and also wind it down with the older, grittier fan favorites. And in an ultimate nod to giving the people what they want, the final song of the encore was Hurt.

photo(5)

NIN holds a place as a memento of my uncertainty and my growth, or better said, confusion and failure to grow. Jr High and High School were the years of leather-bottomed Jansport backpacks with band patches from Hot Topic. I had friends, but I also fixated on this idea that there were other certain kids that I longed to be friends with. I wanted them to like me and to invite me in their circle. I didn’t have any real sense of identity. I was driven by a longing toward something, but I didn’t know what, or why, or how I would know if I found it, or what I hoped to attain by getting to it.

I regret now how miserable I allowed myself to be. So desperately listening to NIN and suffering in hopes that these kids would notice our commonalities in music.  But we went to school together for years, why didn’t I just go up and talk to them. And why didn’t I better appreciate the genuine friends I did have. Why did I have this drive to align myself with virtual strangers, and mourn when I started each school day still not in their social circle?

Years later, I still find myself falling into that trap. There were points in law school where I so badly wanted to be in some particular social circle, but couldn’t explain why or what I hoped to gain from it, and also didn’t well enough appreciate the friends I did have. And sometimes now, when I go to social-media focused events, and I see all these people in real life who are so charismatic and popular online, and I just long to be friends with them. But with a lump in my throat, I let the high school clique mentality set in, and forget that people are people, and I can talk to them. I can befriend them. I don’t need anyone to “pick” me.

I’ve been working through the Lurk No More initiative in my head since Saturday.  The initiative will be good for adding depth and connection to this blog.  But even more so, through this initiative, I’ll work through these ridiculous notions of cliques and crowds. If I want to get to know someone, I can introduce myself and get to know them.  I do not need to cover myself in band patches, hope to be noticed, and pine over the friendships that never were.

I can blast NIN because i want to listen to NIN. And I can let go of needing someone to see what I’ve got spinning in my discman.

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The Fairly Odd Parents, or My Evening Out With Eric Clapton & the Wallflowers

I’m good at keeping up with the local goings-on, but somehow the Eric Clapton concert didn’t make it on my radar.  I was curled up in bed on Friday evening, reading Whirl, when I learned that Eric Clapton would be coming to town the very next day.  I spent most of Saturday thinking about how I really wanted to go, but we didn’t have a sitter lined up, and Mr. Beez doesn’t much care for Eric Clapton anyway.  Around dinnertime I asked him, “Would you mind if I just go?”

“Go ahead,” He responded.

YAY!

I get the impression that Mr. Beez are unique in how independent we each are.  We love going out and doing things together.  And often one of us (usually me) will want to do something that the other (usually him) is not interested, but the loving non-interested spouse (him) agrees to go anyway, and is gracious and patient about it. (Well if it’s me that isn’t interested, I’m not as good at the gracious and patient part).

We don’t feel the need to do every little thing together.  If it’s an event involving lawyers, he is more than happy to let me go solo.  And since we have a little one, this independence often makes things easier, since there’s one of us available to stay home with the little one.  Don’t get me wrong, we do lots and lots of things together, bu we also are OK with flying solo or going with friends.

I was talking with a woman recently who was telling me that she starts a trial the day after the upcoming Black Keys concert.  She and her husband both want to go, but since she can’t go for trial prep reasons, she told him he better not go without her.  That sort of response is baffling to me.  I asked Mr. Beez what his reaction was, and he agreed that from the way we operate, that would be nonsensical.  Were we in that position, I’d tell Mr. Beez to go and live it up, while I’d probably mope a little at home getting my exhibits together.

I think our independence is really good for our relationship.  We enjoy one anothers’ company, without feeling completely dependent.  We are comfortable going out on our own, and don’t use one another as a crutch.  Plus neither of us feel we have to give up interests just because the other isn’t so interested, or because we don’t have childcare arrangements already set up.

So on to the evening!  The Wallflowers and Eric Clapton were awesome.  I knew that this would be the kind of concert I’d regret terribly if I missed, and yes, I was right.  I am so glad I went.  By the time I arrived, all the cheap seats were sold out. The only ones left were the highest price point, but since I was only buying a ticket for one, I was actually excited to shell out the cash for an awesome seat.  I was pretty close up to the stage and had a perfect view (my camera notoriously doesn’t do so well with concert pics, but I promise, it was awesome).  Both bands played favorites old and new.  Best of all, it was clear that every last person on that stage was having a fantastic time.  I love that about concerts, the musicians are so happy being up there in their element, and it is awesome to get to share that with them.

So I went solo, enjoyed a beer, and kicked back and took in the music.  It was fantastic.

I’ve complained that Pittsburgh doesn’t have the concert scene of many larger cities.  With the addition of the Consol Center and especially Stage AE, we’ve been bringing in a lot more bands I like.  Purely out of nostalgic curiosity, I tried to assemble a list of all the shows I’ve seen in Pittsburgh over the last nearly 13 years, and I’ve actually seen a lot more than I realized, and seen many acts multiple times.  Most of the shows have been in the last 6 years, when I’ve been working and actually had a little disposable income, and also as the music scene has grown:

Bad Religion (Club Laga, REMEMBER LAGA?)

Dave Navarro (Rosebud)

The Clarks (way too many shows to list, so many it is embarrassing)

Metallica/Godsmack (Mellon Arena)

TOOL (Twice: Peterson Center and Mellon Arena)

Dar Williams (4 times: The Rex, The Byham, Schenley Plaza and South Park)

Indigo Girls (Twice: The Benedum, Carnegie Music Hall of Homestead)

Girlyman (Opening for Dar Williams, then twice on their own: Club Cafe and Modern Formations)

Rufus Wainwright (Carnegie Music Hall of Homestead)

Veruca Salt (Twice: Mr. Smalls and The Rex)

Robin Hitchcock (The Rex)

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals (Stage AE)

Ted Leo & the Pharmacists (Diesel)

Death Cab for Cutie (Stage AE)

Fiona Apple (Stage AE)

Smashing Pumpkins (Mr. Smalls, while 7 mos pregnant. I don’t recommend that)

Jane’s Addiction/Nine Inch Nails (Post-Gazette Pavilion)

The Allman Bros (Post-Gazette Pavilion)

311 (Stage AE)

Violent Femmes (TRAF)

Cowboy Junkies (TRAF, on the worst date of my life)

Teddy Thompson (TRAF)

I feel like I’m missing some….hmmmm…