Posts Tagged 'music'

Questions: The Wedding Edition

Oh man. I used to love weddings. I really did. I thought they were fun affairs where you got to see family and friends, drink and dance, and just have a good ole time. Plus, when I was single, I almost always got lucky at weddings – something in the air lends itself to sex and romance I guess.

So i always thought I wanted a big wedding because then it’s all the good things about weddings but you’re the center of attention and getting all the gifts!! What’s not to love?

Of course, now that I’m knee deep in planning my own wedding, I understand. They are awful, awful things. My family and my family-to-be are doing more than fair share in helping to plan and pay for the wedding (big shout-out to the parent-in-laws to be here!) and still the list of things to do and pay for is just about endless. Is it too late now to elope???

Anyway, in the spirit of wedding frustration, I present this edition of questions. Now in some of these, I’m appealing for advice, so please help a brother out.

As always, for a more active discussion, visit this post over at dagblog.com

1) What’s the one song you think should be played at every wedding? What one song should never be played? help us build the ultimate wedding playlist!

2) Think back to the weddings you enjoyed most. What did they have in common? What about the ones you enjoyed the least?

3) What number of people is the ideal size for a wedding?

4) What’s your ideal wedding: A) Small destination wedding b) Big, lavish affair c) Elope to nearest City Hall or Vegas d) Does not exist

5) If you’ve gone through your own wedding, what one piece of advice would you give someone about to plan/have their own?

6) What is one wedding tradition you would like to see obliterated forever?

7) Best part about the typical wedding meal: a) Cocktail food, b) main course, c) dessert, d) just the cocktails?

8) Ethnic weddings: Which ones are the best and why?

9) What’s a good groomsmen gift? (Do not say a fully loaded Mercedes, Genghis!)

10) Pick one: a) Band or DJ? b) Sit-down meal or buffet c) Chicken Dance or Electric Slide d) Pigs in a Blanket or Sushi? e) White or Chocolate Wedding Cake f) Templated or Individualized Vows g) Tux or Suit for Groom h) Prenup or not i) Complete Set of China or Big-Screen TV j) Menu choices on invitation or no?

Questions: The Concert Edition (Encore!! Encore!!)

A couple of weeks ago, I went to see Regina Spektor perform at the Beacon Theater in NYC’s Upper West Side. courtesy of a gift from the soon-to-be-Mrs. Deadman.

What a disappointment.

I really like Ms. Spektor, could listen to her breakthrough album ‘Begin to Hope’ over and over again. But her live performance was uninspired and pretty boring, to be frank. Spektor just wasn’t connecting to the audience and it really put a damper on the evening.

My Beyonce and I were trying to figure out why the performance seemed so blah. Regina can’t be blamed entirely – I think her music and her modest (perhaps-too-humble) personality would just fit much better in a more intimate setting than the 2,600 seat Beacon. And I’m sure the fact I didn’t know most of the new songs which dominated her setlist certainly had something to do with my lackluster response.

I don’t think the quality of her musicianship was at fault. But while her voice was in fine form, and the newer music decent if forgettable, she did have her stumbles, most notably during a rap she performed near the end of the concert where she forgot the words. I felt like I wanted to be Simon Cowell, and tell her in my British accent that she should have just pushed through, as few people probably would have noticed the mistake if she hadn’t sat there awkwardly for more than a minute trying to recall the forgotten lyrics.

Regina got sufficient applause at the end of the show I guess to justify the requisite encores (another concert tradition that has totally lost meaning now that its become automatic), but it all felt empty and hollow to me, or maybe that was just my own letdown feeling showing through.

In any case, I’ve decided to post a concert questions column. Looking forward to your answers.

1) What was the first concert you’ve seen? How old were you?

2) What was the best concert you’ve seen? What do you remember most about it?

3) What was the worst concert you’ve seen? What do you remember most about it?

4) Who haven’t you seen perform at a concert but wish you could have?

5) What’s the best opening band you’ve seen? Do you usually arrive at a concert in time to see the opening bands?

6) Putting aside the quality of the actual music for a second, what’s the most important thing a singer or band can do to make the difference between a great concert and an OK concert or an OK concert and a bad concert?

7) Even during great concerts, I often find myself looking at my watch near the end. Do you think concerts are not long enough or too long?

8) What’s the most annoying audience habit at a concert: a) Yelling out ‘I love you’ or some other term of endearment to the performer b) Yelling out the name of a song they want to hear when the performer has not asked for such input c) Singing loudly the contents of a song when no one else is doing so to the point where surrounding concertgoers can hardly hear the real performer or d) Something else that annoys the shit out of you.

9) Why do you think audience members yell out to a performer during a concert: a) because they are swept up by the passion of the music and the moment b) because they hold out hope that the performer will hear them, notice them, and then invite them backstage c) because they like to hear the sound of their own voices and wish they had the talent to be a performer?

10) The encore: a) Like it as is b) Should be revised (How?) c) Should be eliminated.

11) OK, OK, stop your clapping. I’ll give you one more question. I give you $100 to spend on music-related items from your favorite performer – would you rather use that money to buy two tickets to a live concert or to buy a rare bootleg album from that performer that you don’t already have and why?

MOFT: Episode 10 (Ingrid Michaelson)

I finally have a celebrity crush!

For the first time in 35 years, there is finally a woman out there whose posters I want to plaster all over my bedroom walls, whose biographical trivia I want to accumulate like so many rare golden nuggets, whose live and TV appearances I want to schedule my life around (while still respecting all applicable stalker laws, of course).

The object of my intense affection and the clear winner of this week’s My One Favorite Thing award is singer Ingrid Michaelson.

Before last Thursday, all I knew of Ms. Michaelson is she sang this simple, catchy love song called “The Way I Am” that my girlfriend dedicated to me on Facebook (That song, featured in an Old Navy ad, propelled Michaelson to the significant indie-type of stardom she now enjoys. My girlfriend dedicated it to me mostly because it contains the line “I’d buy you Rogaine when you start losing all of your hair,” which, alas, has some, uh, personal relevancy).

I didn’t have much in the way of expectations when my girlfriend told me she bought us tickets to go see Michaelson live at New York’s City Winery (which for all you locals is a fairly new, awesome music venue worth checking out – cavernous yet still somehow cozy, with great acoustics, and good, reasonably priced food and wine to boot).

I certainly didn’t expect Ingrid Michaelson would give one of the most entertaining, enchanting performances I have ever witnessed, and that she would make me all giddy with girl-crush tingliness.

Now I knew from listening to a few of her songs that Michaelson had strong pipes, but she’s no mere studio voice. On stage, her sound reached soaring heights with very little effort, showing at least as much range and power and clarity as on her albums. Plus, she also knew how to use the occasional, well-placed ‘crack’ in her voice to display an endearing vulnerability and fragility in songs that were inevitably about the getting and/or losing of love.

Though it played a clear second fiddle to the star singer, Michaelson’s band was pretty tight as well, benefiting from their long-time collaboration. And the backup vocals – performed by the three guitarists and a key factor in many songs – meshed beautifully with Michaelson’s voice. Her music overall generally rocked a teensy bit harder than some of the other female songwriters who I would put in a similar category, like Feist or Regina Spektor.

But it wasn’t the technical performance of the concert that won me over. The star of the show was clearly Michaelson’s silly, playful, self-deprecating, lovable personality … which came as a complete surprise to me. I don’t know if it was because of her name or her voice, but I expected Ingrid to be this tall, stunning, rail-thin, aloof performer, yet she was actually a bit on the short side, full of curves, mad funny and totally engaging.

Dressed in a stylish yet comfy-looking hipster outfit – tight dark pants, brown leather boots, sleeveless black shirt, colorful scarf and a cute, bowler-like hat –  she reminded me of the sexy best friend you totally dig hanging out with and then all of a sudden somewhere along the way, you realize you’ve fallen in love.

Despite her talent, she seems rather humble and doesn’t take herself or her work too seriously, joking during the concert that she composes all her songs in the ‘C’ chord because it’s the simplest and turning the lyrics of another song into a catchy paean for the Lost TV show.

(I wondered at times if her humility and self-doubt were a bit of an act – she seemed way too engaging of a performer for it to be totally legit – but then there were moments, like when she came back for her encore and spent several minutes trying to remember how to play a tune on the piano, where she truly seemed about ready to lose it).

Michaelson loves interacting with the audience, and its one of her biggest strengths as a performer. Early in the show, she obliged one fellow who wanted to propose to his girlfriend by popping the question for him and then dedicated a beautiful, yet also sweetly realistic song of hers called ‘Giving Up’ to the happy couple. “Thanks for reminding me I’m alone,” she joked. (Oh, but you so don’t have to be, Ingrid!)

At another point, she chided the audience for not being more enthusiastic about joining in on the chorus Ingrid and Deadman ... Can you feel the love?to her song ‘The Hat’. She created this hilarious little story/metaphor – seemingly on the spot – about taking us on a date and comparing our vocal performance to a lame first kiss:

“I take you in my car. I take you home and I reach in, I lean in for a kiss. And what you just gave me was like a dry, half-mouthed, Aunt Mabel kiss. And I bought you like seven dirty martinis so I think I could get a little bit more. So I’m going to try once again, and at least let me get a full lip situation, if not a little over the blouse action.”

When the audience subsequently obliged with a more full-throated response, she screamed “You’re a slut” into the microphone before finishing the song.

I fear I’m not doing a good enough job explaining her rockingness, so I just encourage everyone to catch her act when she’s in town and see for herself. You won’t regret it.

The only thing I regret is how stupid and flustered I got after summoning up enough courage to approach her after the show to get her picture. I don’t remember what I said, but I’m pretty sure it was incoherent. My girlfriend tried to help me out by telling Ingrid that I had immediately placed her in my Top 5, and thus was free to fool around with her, but I think that scared her even more!

Oh well, I’ll do better next time ;-)

More Questions …

It’s question time again. I’ve been posting these columns first on the dagblog.com site I’ve been working on and contributing to, and it’s been cool to see the rather extensive reader response to them. Check it out and be sure to subscribe to the dagblog RSS feed – we’re adding new, talented bloggers constantly. Here’s the link.

1) The NHL hockey season started a few weeks back. For you this means: A) Absolutely nothing B) Something to watch IF there’s no college football, pro football, pro basketball, Poker, English Premier soccer, Nascar, cricket, Dancing with the Stars, AND I can somehow find the VS. channel on my cable system C) The return of one of the most exciting games in the world, a wonderful symphony of grace, violence, and unbelievable athleticsm that is punctuated by the best postseason period in sports.

2) Have you ever owned a Bobblehead? Who was it of?

3) So a few weeks ago, I wanted to know how I could learn about good music, and one of the most common answers was ‘friends’ … So, dear dagfriends, what must I immediately add to my music collection – popular to obscure, rock to jazz, and everything in between, I’m open to anything.

4) As long as I’m asking for pop culture recommendations, my Tivo viewing schedule has gotten surprisingly small (Daily Show/Colbert Report, Family Guy, Office, 30 Rock, Jeopardy, Heroes (barely, that show is really losing me), and House). Any other shows that i should absolutely be watching, esp. new shows???

5) Why have laundromats/dry cleaners resisted the national chain trend? I understand it’s a business that’s hard to differentiate and where proximity trumps all other considerations, but you would think scale could still matter. Yet they’re still all mom-and-pop shops. What’s with that?

6) How is it possible that some people shop to make themselves feel better?? I just got back from buying stuff, and it made me instantly depressed. The crowds, the lines, the cold, heartless materialism of it all, the knowing that I don’t have room in my apartment for what I’m buying and that I probably don’t need what I’m buying anyway, the walking home past panhandlers while carrying several bags on each arm. This really gives pleasure to people??

7) I plan on sitting my child down (assuming I have one one day) as soon as I think he or she can understand the logic of this statement:

“You are the most important thing in this world to me, and I want to give you everything I can and do everything I can to make you happy. But there will be times where I just will not, for different reasons, which I will try to explain to you as best I can, be able to get you what it is you want. I hope you will understand that and realize that crying and crying about it won’t help, and will only make me upset.”

For all you parents out there, do you think that will work at all to limit outbursts?

8 ) I know corporal punishment is a no-no, and illegal in many countries, but don’t you have to spank a misbehaving kid at least once to show it’s an option, even if it’s the nuclear option you never hope to use again …

9) Now that I have asked the previous two questions, should I be sterilized?

10) For those of you who went to college, do you think your liberal arts education was largely an inefficient waste of time – an enjoyable, inefficient waste of time, but an inefficient waste of time nonetheless? If not, defend it.


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