Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Heavenly

Posted: February 17, 2014 in Travel, Uncategorized

This is cooler than any art that I can create.  Heavenly is the right name.

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Riotfest Chicago 2012 (Saturday)

Posted: October 17, 2012 in Music, Travel

To pick up where I left off from Riotfest Day 1, Day 2 began and although there were some cobwebs to deal with, and a little bit of a sore back from my awesome bunk bed at the Getaway Hostel, by the time we made our way over to Humbolt Park, things were going pretty well.  Although i will say, if the Chicago cab drivers are still playing that game where they identify hungover people and then drive like arseholes in an effort to make them want to jump out of a moving (well moving if you count accelerating to 60 between stop signs and screeching to a halt every ten feet) cab, then the chick who drove is to Humbolt Park wins the game, no competition.  I wish I knew your name so I could tell all the cab drivers how great you are at making people want to curl up into the fetal position and cry.  Where was I?  Oh, yeah, Riotfest 2012.

So when you are at Riotfest you know that there are going to have to be some choices made, too many great bands to see them all, so decisions must be made.  Check out this schedule for Saturday, what a lineup.

Nobunny.  We wanted to get to the venue in time to see No Bunny, based on recommendations from my friends B&S.  Not my favorite band, but the early slot at the beginning of a long day of rocking is a tough spot.  I bet they got in some good partying the rest of the day.  I also probably didn’t need to see the singer in tightywhities covered in glitter.  I think I am a little bit cranky today based on my cab rant and this, but I am going to go with it and probably be in a good mood by the time I get to Larry and His Flask.  The gift that No Bunny bestowed was the theme song for the Squad, “Assholes, Everywhere.”  Pretty catchy tune, and hard not to repeat over and over again in inappropriate situations.

Frank Turner.  We then caught Frank Turner, which was very worthwhile.  This was actually the first chance that I have had to catch Frank Turner live, and to be honest, I have only listened to him sparingly.  Very glad we checked out this show, he is pretty amazing and although he isn’t the most traditionally punk person that you will ever run across, by the sound of him he is as punk as anyone, plus he is Irish and that is cool (with some limited and unsaid exceptions).  Below is a link to Frank covering Linoleum on youtube.  I feel like I have a bunch of folks singing this song (NOFX original of course), and its a pretty good litmus test of style and ability.  Give it a listen, I think you will see why I have been playing this version into my wifes pregnant stomach on a regular basis to say hello to my little girl to be.

Larry and His Flask.  So, here I am writing about Larry and His Flask and their bluegrassfolkpunkrockabilly again.  I have to say that every time I see these guys I am amazed and how great they are and how much they continue to improve upon their live show and their music, which started at such a high level improvement is pretty cool to see.  I’ve read other blogs and articles about how these guys stole the show at Riotfest 2012.  If I head Riot Mike’s ear I would say that Larry and His Flask would be an awesome, awesome, awesome secret show.  Make it so Riot Mike.   One thing that is undeniable is the level of talent spread across this band.  They pick with the best of them and rock harder than most at the same time, hard to do, awesome to watch.  Check out the clip below, the effort that these guys put into the show and the crowd is fully reciprocated and has to be one of the best live show experiences on the road these days, shit, even some GWAR fans (yes GWAR is both still alive and played Riotfest 2012) were rocking to the show.  I think that this would be a band that I would enjoy grabbing a beer with, but not having a mustache or beard contest.  I could write more about these guys, but I have a fair amount of ground still to cover and hope to see them again soon in STL so I can continue my affair with their shows.

Teenage Bottlerocket.  To go from Larry His Flask to Teenage Bottlerocket in one day is the makings of a pretty killer day alone.   Last time I saw Teenage Bottlerocket at Riotfest it was at a secret show at the Cobra Lounge (one of my favorite places in the world to see a show).  TBR put on another great show, although their failure to play Maverick nearly sent my buddy Scott into a tailspin.  Was able to see TBR in STL two days ago where they headlined and played Maverick, so S has almost totally forgiven the band.  As usual TBR is rocking.  Their set is always tight and they cram a very punk rock amount of music into a set, very little talking, very lot rocking, which unless you are Brendan Kelly or Fat Mike should be what you do as a band, especially a young band.   TBR’s most recent release Freak Out is definitely worth buying, super rocking all the way through. 

The Gaslight Anthem.  Was good to catch these guys again.  I just wrote about them, still feel the same way, lets not reinvent the wheel here.

Slapstick.  So round two of Brendan Kelly and Dan Adriano, as Slapstick reunited after god knows how long to play a show.   Other than the Asian Man records 15th anniversary, I believe that this is the first reunion since 1997.  A buddy who was/is in the Secret Cajun Band (RIP Skip) told me a story about touring with Slapstick and shooting fireworks at each other in vans on the Fourth of July in the mid-nineties.  Although much older these days, Slapstick still played a great set (how they remember those songs at this point with limited practice is pretty amazing in and of itself).  Brendan made fun of ska the requisite amount to allow them to get through the set, and the lineup of other artists on the stage was pretty telling as far as how special it was for those guys to get together and play a show.

Dropkick Murphys.  As you may imagine if you read the above, at this point in the day I am getting a little drunk and a bit fatigued.  Since the VIP bracelets had us pretty close to the state for most of the shows, and the Dropkicks have to play one of the loudest shows in the history of history, so I hung out in the lawn and watched their show from a bit of a far.  The Dropkicks did what the Dropkicks do, they were awesome and made me want to hate Red Sox fans less for about a second.  Then they played Nessie, which reminder me of 2004, and I now hate Boston fans more that I did before the concert.  Great show.

Decendants.  Although I have been blessed to see the Decendents (with Milo) at previous Riotfests, it is always a pleasure to see these guys as who knows how long they are going to come out.  For a band that was founded in the late 70s, yes 1970s, it is amazing to see them.  We all have our favorite songs, albeit potentially cliche (who knw how that was spelled until now) mine is Hope.  If anyone is punk rocker on the younger side make sure and do your diligence on this band and realize how cool it is that you can see one of the inspirations of SoCal skate punk/hardcore in 2012.  I didn’t take any pictures, as it was getting dark and I was taking in the show.

Rise Against.  Rise Against headlined the Saturday shows at Humbolt Park.  These guys are just pros.  Although it is unlikely to happen, or least not for a few decades, I would love to see Rise Against at a small venue again.  These guys rock and write songs from the gut.  Have lots of respect for them, however, they are super big right now and their show has to match the size of the arena like crowds they are playing to.  No knocks on them, super excited that they are where they are, but definitely miss seeing them with less effects and on smaller stages.

NOFX (1).  So, NOFX is clearly one of my favorite bands of all time.  The new album SelfEntitled is different but the same.  They are definitely taking some chances, but also retaining their sound and the reason that they have to be seen as one of the best punk bands in history, hands down, no argument, I will fist fight over this.  The night before this show NOFX canceled in Minnesota because Fat Mike was sick.  Well thank god he made the secret show at the Congress.  They played again on Sunday at Humbolt Park, so I will get more gooey about my love for them in the next post.

Writing this post has been about as draining as watching 14 hours of Punk music in the day in question.  Unfortunately I have had zero beers in the production of this post, which wasn’t the case with the 14 hours of awesomeness in question.  What a day, next post will be about Sunday.

 

As promised, this is going to be the post about Riotfest Chicago 2012, well at least about the setup and Friday night.  There were a lot of awesome bands, so pardon me while I split this up into a few posts.  If I had to sum things up quickly, I would say, awesome.  So, this year Riotfest Chicago diverged from its usual format of having the main shows at the Congress and some other shows at other local venues and did the damn thing by moving it outside.  This move outside is likely the motivation for the fact that Riotfest 2012 was about a month earlier than usual.  The main location fo Riotfest Chicago 2012 was Humbolt Park, where there were a myriad of stages (large and small set up) in addition to an actual Carnival and all the fun that comes with.  I snapped  a few pictures really early in the day Saturday before the place was packed, but I am also including a map that shows how massive this thing was, and how cool.  Please note the Mexican wrestling ring included therein.  Also please note that prior to this day I had never tried a corn dog because, as I would say, I don’t like them.  Turns out, I do like them, a lot.  Glad they are healthy.

Part of the offer this year was that you could buy three-day VIP wristbands.  In the past the VIP wristbands got you entry into the shows and also access to an area in the balcony at the congress where you had your own bar and could watch the shows without being butt to front with strangers.  This year these special wristbands were pretty killer.  I hesitate to write this, because I don’t really want to share this in future years, but all 16 of you can probably squeeze in with us and not create too much of an issue.  First these wristbands get you access to a fenced off area where there are tables, chairs and about a billion porto-johns which, as you will see later in this post, are super important to me.  They also get you 10, yep ten, “free” beers a day.  This area where I could relax, drink, eat and make water was key to my old legs and back making it through three full days of punk rock.  Maybe I am not that punk, but not waiting in line for a bathroom is worth a little public shame these days.

But I digress, before the outdoor festivities began on Saturday there was a Friday line-up at the Congress, which I sadly didn’t see much (sorry Offspring, but you made some questionable decisions in the late 90s-early 2000s that I just can’t look past, yep, pretty fly for a white guy isn’t something that I am going to be able to forget).   Despite that little personal thorn in my side there, the real reason we didn’t spend much time at the Congress was that Brendan Kelly (Or S’s baby receptacle as S now calls him) and Alkaline Trio were playing at the Broken Bottle at one of the “Secret Shows” on Friday night. 

I use the quotes as the “Secret Shows” used to be announced the day of and only be accessible to wrist-bank holders for Riotfest.  It was a gamble who you might see (previously was awesome bands like the Suicide Machines, Teenage Bottlerocket, Sundowner, and on and on), but this year these shows were announced a month ahead of time, and although the wrist-bands got you in, separate tickets were also sold such that you weren’t guaranteed space unless you got there early, and in this case, stood in a pretty wicked line.  This year also saw headlines like Alkaline Trio, NOFX and (although not  headliner, Fishbone, who were fantastic as I will get to later). 

Luckily there is a bar close to the Broken Bottle that will let you use their restroom if you buy a beer. This is excellent business decision for this bar (whose name I do not recall for some reason…go figure)  as pounding beers in order to use the restroom becomes a pretty circular self-fulfilling endeavor, as I have bladder of a kindergartener and would have to run back to use the restroom and pound a beer more times that you would believe.    I see no issue with saying I had to, as I had to use the restroom, and in order to do that I had to buy and pound a beer.  Oh yeah, there was some music too that night, so lets get to that.  

Brendan played a great set.  Funny guy on-stage and funny guy online, check him out on twitter @badsandwich and for longer funnier posts  at badsandwichchronicles.net.  I don’t have any good pictures of this show as I was too busy being awesome.  Here is a pic I took, which pretty much can be viewed two ways (1) I took an artsy picture by adjusting my iphone in numerous ways to look this cool, or 2) the stage had lights.  You’ll have to just trust me that it is Brendan Kelly.  In any event, nice small venue and great crowd.

This reminds me, I saw a t-shirt at Riotfest that said that “A Hangover is gods way of reminding you how awesome the night before.”  I think that is true, and now will allow me to be more grateful for these awesomeness barometers. 

Alkaline Trio played a great set as well.  Very nice to see them play together, especially nice to see them play together at a small venue like the Broken Bottle.  I have always been a Matt guy, think I have seen them a handful of times and always left a Matt guy, however, and maybe this is because of the Slapstick show on Saturday that I say this, but I left Friday as  a Dan guy.  No offense to Matt, or his sassy hat, but color me Dan for the time being.

Again, pretty artsy/shitty picture, but shows the size of the venue and how rare of an opportunity it was to see Alkaline Trio in this day and age. 

So that was Friday, found our way back to our hostel (that’s right, stayed at Getaway Hostel, which was a painless experience, nothing special, but they didn’t beat us or anything or give us bed bugs).  If you are ever there, about two blocks away in an alley there is a woman with a BBQ pit selling sausages.  She assures me that she has all necessary permits and health department accreditation and that at 4AM she is the best food in Chicago, so check that out too (turns out, she has no website, so you’ll have to do some recon on this yourself).  Only help I can lend is she is about a block before the 7-11 from the Getaway Hostel and I believe at the end of the alley there is a techno dance club (apparently that still is going on).  I’ll get to Saturday soon, it was pretty killer too.

Weak Sauce

Posted: September 26, 2012 in Music, Travel

My attention to this whole blog thing has been, how do you say, shitty.  I have things to post about.  I went to Riotfest 2012 in Chicago and saw some great performances at a festival that I think has made a big and awesome  jump in moving outside.  I went to see the Notre Dame v. Michigan game in South Bend last weekend for a ND night game.    I have a lot to say, but, I am a little lame and busy and am not ready to say it and post pictures, but I hope that will happen soon.  In the meantime, one thing that happened at Riotfest big-time is I was reminded how much I like the Lawrence Arms.  But you say, “The Lawrence Arms didn’t play at Riotfest.”  To which i would have to concur, however, Brendan played the Friday night secret show solo acoustic and, in one of the highlights of the weekend, Slapstick played on Saturday and was awesome.  My good buddy S wants to have Brendan’s babies (and since S is a dude the logistics have yet to be solidified on making that happen) and wouldn’t shut about the man all weekend, so I have been listening to a lot of Brendan’s music for the last two weeks, which in turn means I am listening to a lot of Lawrence Arms, so below is my favorite song of theirs (at least currently). Enjoy, and don’t give up on this blog if you have been reading, as I predict great things in the future.  And by great, I mean OK if you expectations are low.

UPDATE: After reading the above I recieved a text from S that I have the story all wrong, as the truth is that S wants Brendan Kelly to have his babies.  Same logistical issues, but it was important to S that this be cleared up to his public.  I am sure this revalation will change the world.

If this is what the chalkboard says as you are walking into a show, get really, really, happy, then have some drinks, its about to be awesome

Key West (January 2012)

Posted: March 29, 2012 in Travel, Uncategorized

It has been a few months since the trip, but in early January we flew down to Ft. Lauderdale with a very rough plan to hang out in the Florida Keyes for a week and have a little New Years vacation. Other than mi esposa’s visit there as a kid, neither of us had been there adults. Let’s start with the important thing for any of our vacations, the sunset in Key West is awesome.   See below.

The drive from Ft. Lauderdale to Key West wasn’t bad at all, especially because we decided to have no shame and rent red convertible Mustang.  We were those people, and we were loving it thoroughly.  We spent a fair amount of the drive discussing whether we were going to visit anywhere that had captive dolphins.  There was a place that came highly recommended that we thought about a fair amount because they only used rescued dolphins.  Was a hard call, especially after recently watching The Cove (which if you haven’t seen it is extremely sad and definitely worth watching, as I think I have written before).  We opted out.  Really tough call as rescuing dolphins seems important, but growing an industry that keeps dolphins captive for tourists is equally (if not more) compelling as far as being on the comfortable side of karma. 

Although Mallory Square is a little bit touristy, the sunset is definitely going on the wall with Hawaii, Costa Rica and the Dominican.

Sunset at Mallory Square  

There is an attitude about Key West that is hard to put your finger on, but it pretty amazing. The best example I can think of is the endless amounts of Roosters that strut around the mangrove island. No one bothers the Roosters for doing their thing, and in return, the roosters appear to sleep late and not really get to making noise until after 9AM most of the time. It is definitely pretty common to be eating outside and have a rooster running around by your feet.

 

One of the tourist attractions that we walked by was Southernmost Point, which pretty much is what it sounds like. In a funny moment (to us, possibly not the folks I am about to mention) we walked up on the Southernmost Point the first morning that we were in Key West and immediately walked up on the right side and snapped a picture of mi esposa in the background with the monument. It was right about then that we noticed what was an approx. 75 person deep line of people (on the left side, mind you) waiting to snap a picture at the monument. Whoops. My only tip with the monument is that the area clears out completely when the tour buses leave mid-day and it is probably the coolest at night when the waves come in and spray a mist over the whole area (hence this picture being taken at night and in mist).

  

When is came to accommodations in Key West the options were limitless. There are some really nice hotels there that looked very luxurious, but we were in Key West to explore and enjoy some warm weather in the heart of the STL winter, so we opted for a place that was clean, safe and would not encourage us to spend too much time in the room. We found this room on VRBO for a very reasonable rate. The building had approx. 15 rooms that have their own separate set-up and this was perfect. Reminded me of small European hotels (except in this case there was no lobby or food). Great first experience with VRBO.

 

On to food. While we were walking around checking out the area we didn’t do a lot of sit down meals. Plus, a lot of the nicer places on Duval seemed a little touristy. (I know, we are tourists in Key West, a grown persons Panama City, and we are calling places touristy). We found a lot of good places for drinks and apps, which pretty much is all we need on vacations.

One place that stuck out, to the point of the picture below, and mentioning in this post is Garbos Grill, which is a dressed up food cart. This was not only hands down the best food that I experienced in Key West, but this is some of the best food that I have had in a long time. In true Key West fashion the hours pretty much go to sunset, but despite some hustle we tried for a few days to get to the cart for dinner only to miss it by 15 minutes. Once we finally made it to try to food, it was worth all the wait. Thanks for the meal, will not be easily forgotten.

 

The other food that is worth mentioning is B.O.’s Fish Wagon. This is an actual building, but very laid back and very good. Conch fritters (“I have the Conch”- Piggy, Lord of the Flies) are awesome. A decent place for locals and tourists to get together and have some cheap and awesome food. There is a place on the water about a block away from this that has great drinks, but it was too dark to get a picture.   I think it is called Schooners, and I believe that the Rum Runner with a Dark Meyers floater is worth the walk (and I normally despise Rum).

  

Last on the food topic, Key West and the other Keyes are obviously known for Key Lime Pie. As such, people feel inclined to crown a winner. Although mi esposa and I did not agreement, I think that this piece from Blue Heaven wins in my book (plus this place has awesome Bloody Mary’s and better atmosphere than anywhere else we went to get pie (which was a lot of places). If they offered some real limes on the side to squeeze, I think it would have been unanimous. Blue Heaven also has really really good coffee and breakfast. The crepe place across the street isn’t too shabby either as long as you can get a seat on the deck outside.

  

Things to do that are worth checking out for sure:

1. We booked a sunset tour with SUP Key West. Although I paddle a fair amount and mi esposa paddles on vacation, we have never been on a guided tour before. The paddle itself was as expected and fun, but the guide (working on her name) was really great. She was amazingly knowledgeable about the Keys and the ecosystem there. We stopped a lot to look at sealife and birds and in a few cases we were able to get some of the animals onto the boards to check out. Was a really good experience and definitely something I would recommend booking. The company does kayaks as well, but on a SUP board you can see so much better down into the water. We got out to the sunset in time to have a beer and sit on the boards to take in the scenery, then we got to paddle though an awesome south Florida shower on the way back in.

There are a lot of companies that offer kayaking, and probably a few that offer SUP, but the knowledge and personality of our guide would make this tour the one to go with in our opinion. There is something great about a tour that feels relaxed and not one that hurries you through the paces so that they can be on to the next. Working on pictures from the tour and will update the post.

  http://supkeywest.com/SUP_Key_West/Contact_Us.html

2. Dry Tortugas. We had never heard of this place prior to this trip and I believe that we came across it in a brochure at the VRBO room, but it is awesome.  I included a link to the Wikipedia page for folks who want to get a full-history (at least as full as you can get on the internet).  This is a National Park that was a Union Stronghold in the Civil War.  It is approx. 70 miles off Key West and an amazing structure, especially based on how long it has been around.  It is “Dry” Tortugas  (Turtle- both because they visit there and its shape I am guessing) because there is no water, which apparently is why the Fort was eventually only used as a prison and now is a National Park.  Apparently water is important and a shifting sand base isn’t a great place to try to store water for long periods of time.  This excursion was totally worth the few hours you spend on a boat getting there and back.  It was beautiful and the type of place that not many people get to go.  If you don’t like boats, there is also a sea plane that expedites the trip at an additional cost.  Great snorkeling and exploring of the structure.  Great day.

  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dry_Tortugas

Riotfest Chicago 2011

Posted: November 9, 2011 in Travel

So, I once again found myself making the trek to Chicago for Riotfest for the second year running this October, and once again had a great time and saw some great bands.  Before I get to the music, also got to watch the Cardinals win Game 5 against the Phillies at a Sox Bar on the North Side (only a few blocks from the Congress Theatre) which is a fantastic bar (and haven from Cubs fans, as Chicago is filthy with those).  Thanks Bob Inn, and thank you Chris Carpenter.

I am not going to mention all the bands as this is already going to be the longest post in the history or history for me.  In general a good lineup overall, not quite 2010 for me, but solid.  I am not a music critic, and anyone who sees this post has access to the internet to check out the bands in more detail to see if you dig them the most.  I am adding some pictures I took and a few videos/audio-tracks to check out a few of the bands.

Thursday:

Revered Payton’s Big Damn Band:  Three folks, punk rockabilly, good show.

There are three of them- But the Rev is pretty BIG

Thursday night was headlined by Social Distortion.  Actually th first time I have ever caught Social D and it was worth the wait.  They are no spring chickens, but M. Ness puts on a hell of a show and they still straight up rock.  I think I first got into Social-D in the mid nineties, and these guys continue to exude rock and roll.

 
On Friday night, well Friday was for the Cardinals so we caught a decent amount of the Danzig trilogy, but bailed for a secret show prior to seeing much of the Misfits songs (which, as far as I am concerned, is the only Danzig worth listening to, sorry Glenn).  As the world knows, the Cardinals won game 5 and are now 2011 World Champions.  I am still in disbelief and excited, but I digress.
 
We bailed early on Danzig because the Teenage Bottlerockets played a secret show at the Cobra Lounge (another pretty great Chicago bar), but a decent trek from the Congress.  Funny part was te guitarist showing up a little late to start his set because he wa watching Misfits songs at the Congress.  The Teenage Bottlerockets are a great punk band.  Seen them twice and they don’t disappoint.  Had a chance to chat with the bassist, who was super nice, and would highly recommend catching their show. 
 

Teenage Bottlerockets at Cobra Lounge 10/11

 
 
One Saturday band that I really like, and who were great to watch were the Copyrights.  Really good band from Carbondale, IL.
 

Copyrights 10/2011

Caught my personal first glimpse of Larry and his Flask, although B and S let me know that they are not new (more that I am late and old), but these guys were amazing to watch.  THEY ARE AN AWESOME SHOW.  They all seem to be amazing musicians, switching instruments without missing a beat, and rocking some bluegrass-rockabilly-punk-awesome. At a large venue like the Congress they have some room to go nuts, but I bet a small club show with this band would be epic.   Speaking of epic, this youtube clip show them  in a parking lot at Warped Tour and it is worth a watch.  They are said to live in their van while they tour, and with a band that large that has to be challenging.  I hear they will be in STL this spring at the Firebird.  If they see this, my house BBQ for them that day, hot showers, hot food and cold beer, just comment on the post and I can get you information.

Larry and His Flask 10/2011

 Headlining the Congress Saturday night was a REAL treat.  The Descendants (Milo at the mic) played a great show.  Watching the Descendents play Hope took me back to a white CRX in SoCal in 1997 when I was let into the club of everyone who knew that Hope wasn’t written by Sublime.  This is an original punk band from Hermosa and I am really happy to have caught them.

 

Headed up to Chicago for Riotfest 2011 and stumbled upon a great Shepard Fairey installation under what I think was Lakeshore on Grand.  Not sure if this was Shepard himself or someone using his imaged, but each one was approx. 15 x 15 feet and was pretty cool.  Saw some great bands up there and will post about that next.

Shepard Fairey Installation 500 Block of Grand in Chicago