Sunday, February 24, 2013

Fake It Till Ya Make It

There are some harebrained schemes you come up with in life because you desperately want something. There are also schemes you formulate, just to see how far you can go—you want to test the boundaries.

While the former is often more romanticized, I’d argue that the spontaneity of a “let’s just see where this takes us” kind of endeavor can be exceptionally freeing.

With that in mind, let’s flashback a few months:

A friend and I met for drinks, and somewhere in our discussion the band Imagine Dragons was mentioned. “I like them,” I say, “but not enough to spend serious money on one of their upcoming concerts.” My new job was just beginning, cash was low, and while I’d enjoyed the band’s EP in 2012, I hadn’t even heard the new album.

“Agreed,” the friend replied (who shall remain a mystery to the internet, per her request.) “But…”

She had a thought. An intriguing thought.

For the next 15 minutes, we discussed how we could use her connections at a national magazine to get free tickets to this concert. What if she pitched the story to her old boss, as a freelance assignment? Don’t teeny-bobbers love this band? With approval, she could reach out to the PR people. Maybe they’d give us tickets—but why would she need two tickets? Ah, yes! Because I’m her photographer, of course.

I’ve got a camera.
I can take pictures.
Kind of…

Yes, it was a vague plan with many variables. But Friend made the pitch anyway.

Now flash forward to last Wednesday. I’ve all but forgotten about this concert, much less assumed I’d still be playing the role of professional photog. Yet, an adventure was in the making: Friend emailed me that night with conformation we had successfully secured tickets for [insert infamous teenage zine here].

First reaction: Yes! Free concert.
Second reaction: No! Don’t know how to take pictures.
Final thought? Meh… It’ll be fine.

So we traipsed to the Roseland Ballroom on a rainy Saturday in February. Friend marched up to the box office and coyly used the phrase I’ve always hoped to utter since watching “Almost Famous.”

 “We’re with the band.”


The hipster crossed both our names off a list with a yellow highlighter, mine of which was under “Professional Photographers,” much to my chagrin.

We smushed into the large venue, weaving in and out of excitable fans until we had a decent vantage point. Of course, the fight to view the stage was persistent during the opening acts. But after blockading one dude with my book bag, refusing to let some brat take our spots, and making friends with our neighbors—the show began.

And it was actually quite awesome.

The band was especially excited to be playing in New York City, and their energy bled into the audience. Hit song "Radioactive" was explosive, and coupled with a 5-minute jam sesh of straight percussion.

Needless to say, my pictures aren’t brilliant works of art. These guys were happily flailing around, and we weren’t exactly front row. Plus, (believe it or not) this "professional photographer" doesn't even own Photoshop. 

But, as Friend reminded me, we only need one picture.
And that picture will be pretty small.

So here are a few shots from our journalistic evening (of sorts):


Sunday, February 10, 2013

Hum A Little Tune

There are certain songs that remind you of a specific time in life.

For example, whenever I hear Penguin CafĂ© Orchestra’s “Perpetuum,” I’m thrown back to senior year of college.

It’s well past 2am.
Three of us are slouched over laptops in Katelyn’s room.
We smell like stale coffee.
And as I glance at my lit review, I realize it’ll be another all-nighter. I won’t sleep until after my first class. So I play this upbeat, wordless song on repeat, knowing the tune will get me through the next hour of research.  

Another example: During my first year in the city, “Like a G6” blared from every grimy Lower East Side bar. The beat was guaranteed to make people dance, and the lyrics were easy enough to remember. (I also recall one friend drunkenly screaming “Like a CHEESE STICK!” to a crowd of uninterested onlookers while dancing her way to another drink. Said friend shall remain anonymous…)

I remember Death Cab for Cutie’s “Expo 86” while riding a stuffy N train to Coney Island in the summer. My hair was piled on top of my head, and I happily tapped my foot to the beat, relishing in an endless Saturday. 

I remember playing “Good Ol’ Fashion Nightmare” over and over again on my way to work after ending things with a boy.

I remember moving to New York and blasting The Avett Brother’s “I and Love and You,” while driving up I-95N. (But then that became too depressing, so I switched to “Empire State of Mind.”)

There was this one song by Ra Ra Riot that played in Bloomingdales – and I loved it so much, I’d avoid customers for a precious 2 minutes and 43 seconds.  You could find me in the dressing room, humming along with my eyes closed.

I first listened to Mumford and Son’s new album while walking in the Flatiron District with a leather jacket and a cheeseburger.

The Great Lake Swimmers sung their soft lyrics to a frustrated writer in her kitchen throughout a gusty fall day, while The Naked and the Famous announced the arrival of spring.

M83 “owned the sky” in 2011 (and probably in 2012 too). This band produces epic I-have-to-walk-miles-to-work music.

I danced my way through the Parents magazine internship with Passion Pit, and dubstepped my way through the eight-month 
Huffington Post gig.

Ray Lamontagne walked with me around Washington Square Park, while Bison’s “Switzerland” played on road trips to Newark. Edward Sharpe took on the East Village and the Shins maintained their persistent role in my life via an outdated iPhone playlist.

But that’s not even half the songs, or half the stories.
In fact, I’m already forgetting some of the details.

There were plenty of lyrics; plenty of remarkable rhythms that matched my mood as I was freaking out and making out and falling down and looking up and trying to remember to laugh, laugh, laugh.

So I thought I’d write a few down… for memory’s sake.

Because each street has a cadenced beat. 
Each avenue possesses a subtle symphony. 
And, what music we make.