Everything

Field Trip 2018 Preview! Bands we are excited to see

Posted on by Ricky in Everything | Leave a comment

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Summer time means music festival time! This year sees Field Trip kick off the festivities with a weekend full of good tunes, good food and good times.

Here’s the bands we are most excited to see

Yeah Yeah Yeahs

No doubt the main eventer for this festival. Yeah Yeah Yeahs are returning to touring after a brief hiatus. Their last show at Echo Beach was amazing and there is no doubt in my mind that the trio will blow the proverbial roof off the place on Sunday. Surely by now, most people have read the NY music scene book Meet Me in the Bathroom and just hearing the story of the trio will lend a bit extra to the show. But let’s be real, we are all here to hear these songs live again

- Date with the Night
– Maps
– Y-Control
– Gold Lion
– Cheated Hearts
– Heads Will Roll
– Zero

It gonna be good.

Alvvays

I don’t know how they did it, but Alvvays released a second record that was even better then their first. Their songs are made for summertime festivals and this weekend will see that realized.

Japandroids

Speaking of bands with festival ready songs, the hard rockin duo that make up Japandroids are ready to bring their anthemic rock songs to the crowd at Fort York. Don’t miss the beginning of the set, as they seem to like starting with Near to the Wild Heart of Life

Allie X

Those who have been around the Toronto music scene have seen many different interpretations of Allie X and her music. A few years ago, she moved to LA I think, and developed the latest reinvention and it’s great. We’ll get a heavy dose of slick pop music to bop our heads to.

NoName

Noname gain famed a few years ago as part of Chance the Rapper’s track Lost but has since delivered a stellar debut album named Telefone. I saw her last year at SXSW and she put on a lovely show that will play as a nice chill contrast to whatever the heck is going on at the Metric stage.

These are some of the artists we are excited to see! See you there

Retro Song of the Day/Show Preview: Gomez – Get Myself Arrested

Posted on by Ricky in Everything, Song of the Day | Leave a comment

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Photo credit: Brantley Gutierrez

Gomez’s Bring It On might have been the first or only album I bought on the strength of an award.

You see, Bring It On came out around the time I started paying serious attention to music. I had fallen in love with Pulp’s Different Class a few years prior and was pretty content just letting Columbia House/BMG and MuchMusic guide me through the Britpop landscape. It was actually pretty easy to familiarize myself with the Blurs, Oasis’s and the Verves of the world since they were quite popular in the mid-’90s. Brits were the hot thing. Elastica, Supergrass and even Kula Shaker had mainstream hits.

However, as the late ’90s hit, the trends had changed and Britpop died a slow painful death. My heart had been set on British music already so as my favorite bands broke up or transformed their sound to a less favorable to radio aesthetic, it became harder and harder to find that type of music. Only then did I start looking at weekly mags and this strange thing called the internet for more of the music I loved.

So I discovered this thing called the Mercury Prize which went to the best record of the year and without hesitation bought Bring it On, which was the winner that year. It was my first exposure to Gomez.

What came next was a bit of confusion, I had thought it would be well … Britpoppy. To my surprise, I enjoyed it. Gomez has that bluesy-rock kind of sound, but not in that cheesy I’m wearing a fedora kind of way. I’ve always liked the strong contrast between Ian Ball and Ben Ottewell’s vocals, which adds a lot more depth to their tracks. “78 Stone Wobble” and “Get Myself Arrested” were the first of many singles that found success. My actual favorite song is “We Haven’t Turned Around,” off their second record Liquid Skin (which I think was also on the American Beauty soundtrack).

Anyways, it’s been 20 years since the release of that first record, and the band is touring in celebration. They will be at the Danforth Music Hall on Tuesday June 5th. The last time they were here, it was at the Mod Club and that show was a delight. I’m sure this one will be equally great.

Here’s “Get Myself Arrested,” and see you there.

Travel Review: Jordan Part 1 – Basic Info, Aqaba and Wadi Rum

Posted on by Ricky in Everything | Leave a comment

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In my never ending quest to be a travel blogger (a paid one), I am here to tell you about one of the places I recently went to: Jordan.

Jordan isn’t really high on many people’s travel list. It should be. It’s a beautiful country with nice people and is actually surprisingly easy to travel around in. Here is some basic information about my trip.

How we got In

My trip actually started in Israel. We got into Jordan by walking across the Southern border from Eilat to Aqaba. This is right on the coast of the Red Sea. It was very easy. You pay some fees to leave Israel, walk across to the other side, present your passport and Jordan Pass, and then smile. Ten minutes later, you are done.

It should be noted that different borders have different rules it seems, so it’s worthy to google the shit out of borders if you choose to cross from Israel.

What is the Jordan Pass?

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The Jordan Pass is an all you can eat buffet pass to the historical sites of Jordan. You can get it here and then carry the QR code on your phone or just print out a copy. Once you buy it, you can just show it at most, if not all of the major sites in Jordan and not bother lining up. The costs fall into 3 tiers and honestly, the only differences between each one is the amount of days you spend at Petra. We got the most expensive one because the price difference is basically a beer. The Jordan Pass also waives the visa fee for entry into Jordan. Considering it costs almost that much to enter Petra alone, the pass is no doubt something you need to buy if you want to tour Petra.

How we got around

Jordan is easy to navigate and does not appear to be too difficult to drive in outside of the major cities. I don’t drive, and I watch a lot of Fast and Furious so it always seems kinda fun, but the people who did drive didn’t seem too stressed out this trip and the roads were in good conditions for most part. We were also able to rent an automatic car in Aqaba and drop it off in Amman without trouble.

It should be noted that the lane markers on the road appear to be merely a concept in Jordan and you will frequently see three cars in what you previously thought was a two car lane. No one in Jordan wears a seat belt either. To navigate, you can just buy a sim card for a fairly cheap price and use google maps. The places were pretty clearly marked, and some of the highways are rather spectacular as Jordan goes from mountains to valleys very quickly.

Okay, now to where we went.

Aqaba – Red Sea

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Aqaba is the town on the Red Sea in Jordan. It’s where you go if you want to get your water sports on and it’s the only real reason why you would stay there. We wanted to be on a boat and also do some snorkeling and so we walked around all the dive shops and settled on Dive Aqaba. It surprisingly had a Canadian there and after some confusion, we were able to book our boat and a guided snorkeling tour for 35 JOD a person. There were cheaper options but we are precious and wanted a private experience.

The waters during the day had great visibility and there are a lot of things to explore in the water. There was a lot of fish around the coral reefs in the Red Sea which made for a great experience. We also saw sea turtles and were looking for eels but couldn’t find any. Another interesting aspect of the trip was that we were also able to see wreckages that were just off the coast, including a sunken ship.

A good day all around. Next off, was Wadi Rum

Wadi Rum

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Wadi Rum is fucking magnificent. It’s a place with immense beauty and not a place I will soon forget. If you ever want to feel small, Wadi Rum is a great place for this. A giant valley cut into sandstone and granite (says wikipedia), it is a place you’ve seen before. It’s featured heavily in movies like Lawrence of Arabia, the Martians and one of the Transformers. However, you really really have to be there to understand the scope and size of it. This place is enormous.

We spent roughly two days there. Wadi Rum is home to the Bedouin and as such, the only real way to do Wadi Rum is to stay at a Bedouin camp. We stayed with Rumstars and it was great. Their camp was deep inside the heart of Wadi Rum. Food and beverage (in the form of water and tea) are provided and the people who run are very nice. The accommodations are quite basic, but it is completely reasonable.

During the day, you will get driven on a 4×4 to many places that are visually stunning within the area. You will see great vistas, walk through canyons, climb to great elevations and basically want to instagram everything. It’s spectacular.

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Next up – Petra, Feynan Eco Lodge, Dead Sea and Amman

SXSW 2018 – The Recap: Favorites, Surprises, etc.

Posted on by Ricky in Everything, South By Southwest | Leave a comment

Starcrawler, March 15, 2018

The 10th Year. That is pretty crazy. At this point, I have spent over 100 days in Austin. I have spent over a month at the Sheraton on 11th. All because of this little tech and music festival in the heart of Texas.

This year was an invigorating year. I don’t know why. Everyone at SXSW just seemed happy to be there. There were the crazy years from like five years ago when Justin Timberlake and Lady Gaga and Springsteen were all at SXSW, but really, that was not what SXSW is about. I’m very glad the organizers of this festival has withdrawn from that type of booking. It’s now looking more like what it was when I first started (which probably still looked different than it did when people first started going, but whatevs).

Anyways, we polled the people at the Panic Manual about their experience.

Best Act

Paul: While it was great to revisit old favourites like Gaz Coombes, The Wedding Present and Low (whose Tuesday night set of church organ driven arrangements of their latest material had me feeling like I was stuck inside an episode of Twin Peaks all night – in a good way, of course), I’ll go with London’s Shame as one of the best among the new acts I caught.

Derek: Toss up between Meute and Superorganism. I’m hoping both continue to churn out new stuff.

Gary: Between Nubya Garcia and Albert Hammond Jr, which oddly were among the first and last shows I saw this year.

Ricky: Two acts I really enjoyed (but have already seen before) were Cut Copy and Young Fathers. Those are unfair because I knew what I was getting into. Three acts that made huge impressions on me were Meute, Shame and Gangs of Youth. I’m a sucker for anthem rock and saw Gangs of Youth twice so I might go with them, although Shame was definitely a 1b.

Most Disappointing Act

Paul: LuxDeluxe. They’re talented enough guys, but something about their performance just didn’t gel for me. Points to the singer for dancing so hard though.

Gary: Yes I was paying attention… but I can’t recall anything that was disappointing enough for me to bother to write about it. Even ShitKid was disrespectfully charming. Perhaps the band that me and Paul walked into at the Driskill?

Ricky: Not sure what the hell Porches ever did to give them a closing slot for a day show. Was not interesting at all.

Most Pleasant Discovery

Gary: Gordi. I have always thought that sunset and an inanely-smiling crowd are prerequisites to a wholly entertaining show. Her singing was transporting enough to forget that I was bathed in molecules of rotting hipster garbage from the high-rise next door.

Paul: Meute was the most fun and put on an amazing show, though I’ll also give a shout out to a band on the opposite end of the spectrum in terms of mood and energy – Holy Motors from Estonia. Their Mazzy Star gone spooky Spaghetti Western vibe made for a nice, chill break in the middle of Friday afternoon.

Derek: Meute were fantastic. I wouldn’t think that a German techno marching band (complete with uniforms) would be a thing I’d bug out to, but they had an amazing energy that had the crowd moving.

Ricky: Meute was amazing. Everyone has already said that. Aside from them I would say my most pleasant discovery was going to the China showcase, seeing a psych-rock act named Fazi and then watching a bunch of old Chinese people in winter vests dancing it up as if their lives weren’t pinned down by some overwhelming suppressive communist regime or something.

Anything new or notable about SXSW this year?

Paul: The continued downsizing of SXSW from the excess of a few years ago has continued into this year’s edition and it seems to be a good thing – the lack of huge big name headliners means a lot less FOMO and frees you up to explore a bit more.

Another thing I noticed was a large number of great female performers this year, including Starcrawler, Fruit & Flowers, Wye Oak, Anna Burch, Superorganism, Boytoy, Ex-Girlfriend and Rachel Bloom (of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend), just to name a few. When I first got to Austin (or maybe it was at the airport before I even left – Monday was a long day) I noticed a woman wearing a t-shirt that said “The present is female” and based on what I took in at SXSW this year, that statement would appear to be true.

Derek: It definitely felt smaller and the lack of huge headliners was noticeable.

Gary: Austin remains as lively and friendly as ever, but it’s an odd mix of care-free and hyper-vigilance that is new. Ever since the truck accident they have been scaling back, first pedestrian barricades on 6th to thin the crowd, then dump-trucks full of sand at intersections as precautions. This year the new fire regulations and enforcement were really thorough, although fewer venues remembered to check my camera bag. Glad to see that even as our world spins out of control, it still needs music.

Ricky: The bands seemed smaller this year. When Rae Sremmurd is the biggest act, you know they have scaled it back a bit. I really liked that. Also, they were a lot stricter with capacity levels. Often times you would line up to get in to find out its only half full.

All in all, an amazing year. Here’s a spotify playlist of some of the bands we saw.