2016 Top 10

As 2016 comes to a close, I can honestly say that the best part of this year was music. Although we lost some great musicians and industry leaders, the work that came out never failed to bring me joy.

This post is going to be quick, and recap all the songs that I loved and highlighted a moment in time during this year. Not all these songs were released in 2016, however, but regardless they still impacted my year somehow.

Music is timeless, and even though a song might have been released before you were born, it could still be a new discovery to you and mean something to you in the present day.

Songs in order of most listened to and favorite:

  1. “Blood, Sweat, and Tears” by BTS (Kpop/Hip-Hop) 2016
  2. “All I Wanna Do (Ft. Hoody, Loco)” by Jay Park (Kpop/R&B/Soul) 2016
  3. “TOKI” by Da-iCE (Jpop/Pop) 2014
  4. “Don’t Worry About Me” by Frances (Singer/Songwriter) 2016
  5. “Taking Off” by One Ok Rock (Jrock/Rock) 2016 but album release is 2017
  6. “Poison & Wine” by The Civil Wars (Alternative) 2009
  7. “Youth” by Troye Sivan (Pop) 2015
  8. “Heads/Tails” by Hotspur (Alternative/Pop) 2009
  9. “Desperate (Ft. Tyler Carter)” by Boy Hero (Alternative Rock) 2016
  10. “The 7th Sense” by NCT U (Kpop/Hip-Hop) 2016

There you have it, my top 10 songs of 2016. Theses songs are ones that I have listened to the most throughout the year and have either shaped a moment in my life or highlighted a moment that means a lot to me.

There are some honorable mentions that I would like to point out. These songs, however, I did not hear until December because they were either released in December or they didn’t reach my ears until then.

They are:

  1. “I Was King”by One Ok Rock
  2. “Million Reasons” by Lady Gaga
  3. “The Runner and The Lover (ft. Shelby Merry)” by Formal Vandal

All of the songs mentioned on both lists are on my “Spring/Summer 2016” and “Fall/Winter 2016” playlists on Spotify.

I will continue to add songs to the Fall/Winter playlist until Spring starts back up in 2017, so follow the playlist to stay up to date on what I’m listening too!

Stay rad and have a great new year,
Stefanie.

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Milwaukee Irish Fest 2016

It was a rainy, cold day…but Milwaukee Irish Fest was yet again another great day. Although I felt that the line up wasn’t as great as last year, Cherry and I still had a great time (even though we got rained on a few times).

Because of the rain, I didn’t take many live pictures, we did get to meet our friends in the Red Hot Chilli Pipers again. So here are some pictures (ones that turned out anyways) of us with the members of the Chilli Pipers.

There are more pictures with all the members, but the lighting was not on our side that night.

Vans Warped Tour 2016

Stop! Before you bash this post or roll your eyes, this is not another review of the Vans Warped Tour. I’m not going to explain the sets of each band I saw or the meet and greets that I went to. I’m going to tell you why, in my opinion, the Vans Warped Tour is the greatest tour to date.

In case you don’t know what it is, Vans Warped Tour is a touring festival of 50+ bands that play shows all over the country. It is home to the best bands in the alternative rock/punk/hardcore music around. The bands play 30 minute sets on assigned stages and some of them do meet and greets or signings or other special workshops at various tents. Non profit organizations as well as other businesses that support the tour set up their tents to spread the word while on the road.

Now, this is why I feel Warped Tour is the greatest tour to happen. Ever since I was a freshman in high school, I’ve been attending the tour in Milwaukee. Whether it was a good lineup or a bad one, I went because of the experience I had while there. Yes, you get to see your favorite bands live and you can meet them during a M&G or a signing, but that is not what makes Warped so great.

It is more than just the music. Its a place where everyone is accepted. Walking up to the gates the feeling that you are going to get judged washes away. There is not “dress code” or certain physical standard that you have to hold up to. There is no one that you need to impress, and there is no one style of music that you have to listen to in order to go to Warped.

No one cares what you look like, as long as you came out to support music, and you don’t act like a dick, we love you. No one cares what or who you listen to. There is this misconception that only “scene music” lovers can come to warped. Wrong. Yes, if you are a country lover you might not know or like any of the bands playing because they are more rock/punk based bands, but pop acts and rap acts have played warped and have received a great response.

Warped doesn’t care about your sexual orientation, gender, skin color, religion, etc. It doesn’t care what you do with your life or who you do it with. All it cares about is that you love music and you love having a good time. A lot of bands touch on that during their sets as well. Its all about love and music. Theres no room for hate at warped tour.

You don’t have to like the music to come to warped. Why? Because it is more than just music. There are just as many non-profit organizations that come to warped and set up their tents everyday to educate people about their cause. Groups like PETA, Keep a Breast, Hope for The Day, and HeadCount all come out to tell their mission and cause and hope that you take a second to hear them out. Every single one of these groups are trying to make a difference in the world, trying to shine a light in times of darkness and I think it is an amazing thing to have them on the tour.

Something that made this Warped stand out than the rest, and made it a little bit more special to me, was the line up. It was this weird but amazing juxtaposition of new aged warped and old warped. You had bands just breaking out onto the scene, like Against The Current and The Heirs, and then you had bands who have been around for 10+ years and have played warped just as many times. Bands like Good Charlotte, New Found Glory, Sum 41, and Yellowcard.

It was something that to me felt really special to experience. I grew up listening to all those bands. I remember putting their posters all over the walls in my bedroom and wishing that I would see them live one day. Then when I finally get a chance and see them live they go on a hiatus and drift to the back of my mind. Now they come out with new music and are back touring again and I feel like I’m 12 years old. It was a surreal experience.

Watching Good Charlotte was one of my favorite moments of the day. You know how you have that one band or artist that you feel very protective over because you’ve been listening to them for most of your life and they mean so much to you that you just kind of claim them as “yours”? GC is that to me. I’ve been listening to them for nearly 13 years now and I got the opportunity to see them 6 years ago in concert. That was the last time they played in Milwaukee on the last tour they did before their hiatus. Now they are back out with an album and going on tour again and I got to see them return to Milwaukee, return to Warped Tour, and it was amazing. I’m sure if you ask Cherry she will say that I had a smile on my face for the whole set.

One last thing I want to touch on before I end this post. Yellowcard. If you are a fan of pop-punk, and early 2000s pop-punk, then you know of Yellowcard. They recently announce that after this next album cycle they are going to be calling it quits. This broke me a little. They are another one of those bands that I like to claim as my own little treasure. They mean so much to me and have shaped my musical tastes in so many ways that its almost like losing a best friend or family. I knew that Warped would probably be the last time I saw them perform live and I’m glad that I saw their set. Nearly lost my shit during “Only One” and during “Ocean Avenue” but I held it together and then cried an ocean in my pillow that night. *not really but you get it*

Overall, I feel that Warped tour is an experience that any music lover should experience. Like I said, you don’t have to like the music being played (although it does help) because there is so much else do and groups to support that it makes it worth while. Its just a big party for music fans to come out and show their support, educate themselves on the workings of different organizations, and feel accepted.

So to end this post, here is a list of bands that I did see perform:
Tonight Alive
The Heirs
Set It Off
Real Friends
Against The Current
New Found Glory
Issues
Good Charlotte
The Maine
Yellowcard
Mayday Parade
Sum 41
Sleeping With Sirens

Bands that I met:
The Maine
Real Friends
Against The Current

Stay Warped,
Stefanie

A Single Loose Knot

Eyes open,
a pitch black scene
trying to move, but go no where

Panic, fear

They consume the body
filling it like a new supply of blood
palms sweaty,
heart racing

No escape.

Hours of waiting,
my body gets irritated

Rage, anger

They start to surface
arms tugging, pulling at the ropes
legs kicking, teeth biting,
trying to break free
A single loose knot,
the ropes unravel

Freedom? Not quite.

Still caged in,
like an animal
a chair thrown at the only window
screams, shouts
broken objects scatter across the cement floor.

My knuckles painted with red,
fingernails are now only half their original size
I scratch at the walls,
trying to dig a way out; like a dog.

My escape tunnel
is closing,
slowly.

37 People Wearing Black

I’m awkward around the dead. Funerals put me into an uncomfortable position and walking into a cemetery just kicks in my paranoia. I’ve been to quite a few funerals in my life, not the greatest thing to say, but its true. All of which left me with different emotional states.

Some were easy, go to the visitation, pay respects and go home. Some were more difficult, like my grandmother’s. I was really close with my grandma and I was an emotional wreck at her funeral. At the end of the day my eyes were so puffy, my throat was sore, I was so drained that the last thing I wanted to do was have a meal and chat some more with relatives I didn’t even know.

But, other funerals I didn’t even shed a tear. Today I had a funeral for my great uncle on my mother’s side. I was fine before I reached the church, then I started getting really nervous and faint. I did everything I could to distract myself from the fact that it was a funeral service. I would go talk with my aunts, cousins, grandparents just to get my mind off of it. During the service I found myself identifying items in the room.

37 people were wearing black.
There are 32 columns of wood paneling by the alter.
The woman behind me was sharp for all three hymns that we sung.
My grandpa fell a sleep and sneezed 3 times.

Among other things. Its not that I don’t like being there, its just that I don’t know what to say, what to do, how to act, where to look…

I’ve never paid respect to the casket either. For every funeral that I’ve been to, since I’ve understood what death means, I’ve never walked up to the casket and paid respects. I just can’t do it. I cannot look at the person that I’ve once known, full of life before, and now motionless in a box in front of me. I do pay respects to the family, and I say a silent prayer to the one that has passed once I’ve sat down. I just can’t see them laying dead in front of me.

I’d rather remember them how they were. My last visual memory of them I want to be of them alive, not of them dead. Today I looked around the room and saw family members crying, friends of my great uncle with sympathetic faces, and young children who looked bored and confused. As I looked I questioned why funerals are so focused on mourning the life of a loved one? Why are they not about celebrating the life they lived?

We celebrate life on so many occasions: birth of a child, birthdays, life achievements in school or work, but why not when the life of the person matters the most? When they’re dead. The pastor today kept saying, “today we mourn the life of a father, a husband, a brother, a grandfather..” but he never once mentioned remembering him or celebrating his earthly life.

Sometimes I wish I could have the naivety of my younger cousin (age 8). He thought today was a day to hang out with the extended family. He was so excited to see all his cousins that he ran up to me and said “I’m so ready for this dress up party!” He thought that this was just another family reunion, but one where everyone dresses up. So you can just guess the confusion on his face when the service started. But afterwards he got to play outside, eat some food and play with his cousins. “Today was a great day, except for the whole dying thing.” – my cousin.

Its okay to mourn, I’m not writing this saying that you shouldn’t mourn their life, I was an emotional wreck during many funerals, but I’ve learned that if you celebrate their life and all that they have done, it makes the grieving process easier, for me at least.

Today I did not mourn my great uncle’s life; I remembered him and celebrated all his accomplishments.

 

2015 In Review

As we approach the final stretch of 2015, everyone is looking back at what they’ve done throughout the year and if they kept to their resolutions or goals. For one who doesn’t really set resolutions, I just look to see if I did what I wanted in 2015.

I wanted to read more books. I did. Compared to 2014 I probably read double in the year 2015. I wanted to read more books because I wanted to make a habit of reading. I did not want to become a reader that knocks out 20 books a month, but I did want to finish at least 2 a month. I did well for the first half of the year, but during the summer when my life was really crazy, I didn’t read at all. But I got back into the swing of things come September and I can safely say that I have made a habit of reading. Although it was not what I originally set out to do, I would say that reading was a success in 2015.

I wanted to attend more concerts. Sort of. I don’t think I exceeded the amount of concerts I attended from previous years, but I did do something that I’ve always wanted to do. I got to work at Warped Tour. I’ve always dreamed of working on that tour, and although I was not an official employee, I did get to work at the Milwaukee show date and it was a great experience. I got to learn so much more about the tour business, got to see bands perform for free, and ate supper with BlessTheFall. So I would say that concert attendance was an experience in 2015.

I wanted to go more places. Unless Milwaukee and Chicago count as “going more places” I don’t think this one was a success. 2015 was financially straining with more expensive tuition payments throughout the year. Unfortunately I was not able to travel to more places like I originally planned to. Although, in the summer I think I traveled to Milwaukee on a weekly basis and made a trip down to Chicago. Other than that, my regular commute to work was as far as I would go. So I would say that traveling was not agreeing with my wallet in 2015.

Overall, I would say that 2015 was a pretty okay  year. I accomplished some goals and wants throughout the year, and because of that I do believe that I am an more well-rounded and better person than what I was at the start of 2015. And even though I did have failures, it only goes to show that there is still room for improvement, room to grow, room to learn and mature.

I now know what I want to improve on for 2016 and what I want to try and accomplish that I didn’t this year.

I want to travel more. Planning, saving and taking more time for myself to enjoy and relax.

I want to see bands I’ve never seen before. I tend to find myself seeing bands that I’ve already seen before. Staying in a safe zone, knowing that it will be a great concert no matter what. Being more adventurous in my concert-going in 2016 is what I need.

I want to meet new people. Expanding my friend loop to have a variety of people to talk to. Having a few really close friends to talk to everyday is great, but sometimes you need variety.

I want to graduate. That would be great.

I want to have a great year. Staying happy, positive, finding out stuff that I like and stuff that I don’t. I want to make memories this year, and it will all be documented on this blog.

I’m ready to welcome 2016.