Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The BucketHillist: See Muse Live

What: Muse live, Drones World Tour 2015-2016

When: Saturday, December 5, from 6:30 p.m. - Sunday, December 6, 12:30 a.m.

With: Bonnie, Matt Bellamy (vocals, guitar, piano), Dominic Howard (drums), Chris Wolstenholme (bass),  some seriously sedated-by-liquor-or-marijuana individuals, and a cheerful security guard. Oh, and a thousand other people that I experienced immediate kinship with.

Where: Glendale Arena.

Why: Some orchestra friends introduced me to "Starlight" in 2008 and I fell in love with the song immediately. Later I discovered their album Absolution in 2009 that reaffirmed that real, good rock was not dead.

Annnnd over the last six years or so after listening and pining over their music and wanting to finally attend their concert, my love for their music remains unchanged but rather more deeply appreciated as each new album released.

Thought-provoking lyrics that attribute inspiration to 1984, music deeply inspired by Queen, and heavy piano solos laced with memorable guitar solos serve the foundation for why I love them so.

But there's so much more - they serve as my muse in many different ways: from learning more Chopin on piano because his "Nocturne In E-Flat Major, Op.9 No.2" gets attributed in "United States of Eurasia," to keeping me motivated during every running race and weekend run since I began hitting the pavement (2008-2009), to influencing my wardrobe by motivating me to add some sneakers and a leather jacket.

Long story short: They're my favorite band of all time. I need to stop trying to explain why, I feel weird - no matter how hard I try to write about why they're pretty much favorite, the words never adequately accomplish what I hope to express. That's a reason I love music so much - it takes words and heightens and transcends them into deeper emotions.

So let's move on to the actual concert.

It began with some sweet potato fries and Smashburgers, then Bonnie and I rocked out to Muse during the entire car ride over, songs I specifically selected based on the set-list homework I conducted prior. I found not psyching myself up for certain songs (they have seven freaking studio albums for crying out loud!) and for others massively improves my live experience - can you tell I've gone to probably too many concerts

We went sufficiently early - so we visited the merch tent and I purchased their classic logo t-shirt I dreamed of purchasing and wearing since 2012. I hope it's a shirt I can hold on to for decades to come and it'll serve as my "Oh yeah, I was there" and maybe "I'm a cool mom and you have no idea" shirt.

After some time waiting on the floor level after their "meh" opening band performed (Sorry Phantogram, wasn't feeling you!), almost getting my DSLR confiscated by the security guards (they said I "barely" made the cutoff with my lens size - so thank me for the amazing images and footage below), and speculating with Bonnie about what the crew men hanging from the ceiling risers had in mind for those robotic-looking things - I blinked and noticed a random futuristic army man (similar to Halo or a Hunger Games peacekeeper) march around the stage on the floor behind security. 

Very subtle in a giant crowd, but it gave me chills.

A few riotous noises from other floor participants responded to this as well. And then the lights dimmed...

Imagine having a "drone" flying ten feet right above your head, slowly floating down towards your face, and they're singing, "Killed by drones." Queue a slight overwhelming sense of terror and excitement that this could be a musical apocalypse (consult Bonnie's reaction in above video). Then they ran on stage and began their set list with the new single "Psycho" from their new album, Drones and the show took off.

With drones floating around, the circular rotating stage in the center of the whole audience, the multi-angle cameras panning super-close ups of the bands' faces and hands on their instruments, the million different lights and special effects displayed in a multi-media 360 degree experience - it's no wonder they announced a few postponed U.S. shows due to tour size and described it as a "ridiculous ambitious tour we've taken on... bitten off quite a lot" when they accepted their Grammy last month.

Fun fact - yes, I go all nerdy and read up on my bands, did you know they worked with the same man who created Pink Floyd's "The Wall" tour?

Let's not forget the pristine sound quality - my camera doesn't do it full justice, but it does do a bang-up job showing it - hearing them live almost sounded just like their recordings and it required me to pinch myself multiple times. I couldn't believe I was there and it was real.

I'm really glad I saw them when I did - I liked this album so much than their previous one, they decided it was time to revisit their Absolution album, and, of course, they kept the best from every album in this line-up.

I'm also grateful we spent a little more for floor "seats." Although we chose to stand on the fringes to avoid having tall guys block our view, beer spilled on us, mushroom clouds, and/or any potential moshes (again, I've had my fair share from experience), we still had the fortune to get up and close with the band.

The band definitely made contact with their audience in every angle. Matt ran out to the edges of the stage and looked down and rocked out to Bonnie,me, and maybe seven other people hanging on the side - more chills went down my spine. I often forget my favorite musicians are real, tangible people!

Chris and Matt would rotate ends of the stage so we got a handful of close-ups with their songs.

To be honest, I didn't record a lot of my most favorite songs because I chose to (try to) absorb the whole experience, and I started rocking out to "Uprising," "Supermassive Black Hole," "Hysteria," and "Knights of Cydonia," so I didn't take footage or images due to some serious head-banging.

But there was other amazing things going on with the stage during, I promise you. The encore finished with some serious streams of confetti and probably a long evening ahead for the janitorial crew.

Bonnie and I couldn't even when the show ended. I stood there for minutes stunned, paralyzed by the sheer awesomeness. Then like a herd, they began goading us out through the exits to our cars.

We sat in my car for 45 minutes talking about how much we loved them, how long we dreamed seeing them, and how unreal the experience was. 

Bonnie determined this post-excitement thrill selfie worthy. I'm glad she convinced me to snap one.

Like I said, I could probably still go on and on about how much I love this band and why this concert was amazing - but I'll wrap it up here.

Muse is THE rock band for our generation - as a former classic rock album critic and music columnist for my university's paper I feel highly qualified to make this statement. So if you haven't given them a shot already, I'd encourage you to try.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

2016: A Year for Gratitude

One of the goals I made last year was to stop saying "Sorry" when it really wasn't necessary or I wasn't actually sorry.

I.E. Contributing ideas at work when it might challenge the discussion, asking questions that start with "Sorry to bug you," etc, etc... There's a lot of self-shaming that comes from using sorry outside of making genuine mistakes (Solid read here).

I don't really do "resolutions" so much anymore as I do themes - since I think goals need shorter, more measurable periods than a year, but can tie into something bigger long term.

One of the three themes I picked this year involved "Gratitude." This article made me realize how I could replace one habit of self-shaming into something outward-focused and positive. it's amazing how turning "Sorrys" into "Thank Yous" makes all the difference.

On that note, thank you for reading my blog. Even when I write sporadically because I want to keep my life private or I decide all my thoughts need to go out into the world to fulfill themselves.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The MilleMarathon, Month 1

Dear Friends, Family and Future Self,

I will run my first Full Marathon the end of February (the Phoenix Marathon, specifically) and my training officially began a month ago.

I currently follow Hal Higdon's Novice 2 Marathon Program, only slightly modified (different days), if anyone really wondered, and his routine definitely pushes me. The program lasts about four months and I wanted to document the fun quirks and isms about the journey before I forgot about all the details by the end.

Month 1 of 4 synopsis of the #MilleMarathon training:

  • Yesterday's 11-mile run went great. Except when a giant black rat attacked me at Mile 3 and I screamed audibly high-pitched in front of a bunch of construction workers. I became a paranoid, emotional wreck all the way until Mile 6. 
  • I slept 12 hours last night and feel like a new person.
  • I ate two lunches and two dinners yesterday. And a snack before bed so I could fall asleep without my stomach hurting. I feel like the Hulk in the kitchen.

  • Don't. Don't. DON'T. Take any supplements or vitamin capsules a few hours prior to running. (In this case, Magnesium) Learned this the hard way on a Wednesday evening 6-Miler. 
  • When I go shopping almost anywhere I usually think about what at that store can supplement my run... Nordstrom Rack - running jacket? Sprouts - Honey Stingers? WinCo - Water to put in my Camelbak?
  • I often want to blame Hal for making me get up and workout. I also imagine Hal feeling proud when I accomplish the exact mileage he wants in a week. 
  • First two weeks were really rough. I'm not bothered by the distance but the increased frequency (i.e. four-runs per week) kills me.
  • Each week feels like its own personal accomplishment. 
  • I sacrificed hip and leg flexibility for awesome cardio. And I suddenly really suck at Pilates and any exercise not constituted as running. Can't win them all I guess.
  • I can eat anything and it will not stick longer than two hours usually. I can also eat very little and tolerate feeling hungry for a longer span. 
  • My butt went numb from Monday morning's run. In other news, also wore shorts in 53 degrees. 
  • I hear about running groups and feel like the perfect candidate to join them until I think, "Oh, but they might not want to get up at 5 a.m. and run 8 miles." 
  • Running three miles now = running one to two miles back then.
  • I have my first permanent blister on my left heel - more to come, no doubt.
  • I ran 79 miles total in the last 4 weeks. Yet I get the terrible looming notion that come January I will complete the same accumulative mileage in half that time. 
  • I salute the crane who sits along the same spot by the lake and looks suspiciously at me as I run past him three-to-four times every week. Somebody holds me accountable at least. 
  • Stretching sucks. And rocks. 
  • I bought a massage ball and it so far saves my feet from crazy swelling. 
  • I get irritated when seasoned runners tease or criticize my "cozy" 11:30 running pace. I'd like to point out that I never experienced any serious leg injury in the five years of half-marathon, Ragnar, and marathon training and all those running critics have. So, do what feels right, peeps. Haters gonna' hate. (Or laughers gonna' laugh?)
  • No feeling compares like running into a golden sunrise over Tempe Towne Lake. The colors in the sky reflect in the water and it feels mystical. 
  • Additionally, a canoe-r or rower always seems out on that perfectly colored lake and it looks like that opening piano and bird scene in The Notebook. 
  • Jackrabbits are very awake and active at 6 a.m.