Archive | August 2013

The Legends of the Summer Edition

Legends of the Summer setThe first 10 days of August were a blur of non-stop activity, both at work and at home. The capper of the month was finally seeing the Legends of the Summer tour. I purchased these tickets back in March when the tax refund was rolling in and I was flush with money. Needless to say, almost six months later, I wondered with my inside voice often if I foolishly spent too much money for one event. It rained pretty much all day and the concert was outside, so I was not really feeling up to it. Thankfully, it only sprinkled during the concert. Score! I needed to take the day off because the concert was in Baltimore and I work in Northern Virginia. The last few times I tried to make it from Northern Virginia to Baltimore on weekdays have been disasters and I didn’t want to risk it. Our plan was to get there early, park far away and have dinner. Well, it took two hours to travel 30 miles in the rain, so that plan never came together. We were at the stadium by 7p—early–and I bore very easily.

I hoped against all hope that the show would start promptly at 8p mainly because I was bored. Sitting in wet folding chairs watching people walk around was no fun. Honestly, I knew better. Based on twitter reaction from previous shows, the concert started around 9 and ended at 11:30p. That is precisely what happened. On a school night! After listening to an hour of a DJ travel from the excellent: Ashford and Simpson to the terrible: whichever hip hop artist is currently on the radio. I was so ready for the show.

Can I say in completely certain terms that the show as awesome? I saw an old episode of No Reservations this week and Anthony joked that coming up with adjectives to describe delicious food becomes exhausting. Finding an adjective to describe an amazing concert is pretty much the same. First, the staging was gorgeous and I happened to match because I was wearing red. I read a Rolling Stone review that stated that Jay Z’s collaboration with Justin has elevated his stage presence. It’s true. I am not exactly sure why Justin went through this “I want to act and design jeans instead of sing” phase, but he needs to stop. He belongs on a stage and he seemed almost Zen singing, dancing, and playing multiple instruments. I know people feel the need to stretch themselves, but again stop. Since he has three relatively short albums (~10 songs a piece) knowing his catalogue is rather easy. I and the audience could happily sing along. Jay Z has a ridiculously long catalogue so knowing what songs he would do became an interesting guessing game. I really hoped for more American Gangster, but oh well.

They came out to that Magna Carta Holy Grail, which I don’t like but it looked fun. Justin and Jay Z took turns performing, sometimes mashing up their songs. Justin would sing hooks for Jay Z songs replacing the original artists. For others, we were forced to hear recorded versions of the hook singers (my least favorite part of the show). Honestly are we really missing anything by having the background singers take turns being Alicia Keys or Rihanna? I like my live shows with live music, but I digress. They also had singular sets where they would do a few of their songs on stage without each other. My favorite part, other than the gorgeous set, was the band. In all red, they would dance for Jay Z songs and riff for Justin’s. Seeing the band bop to N’s in Paris was adorable, no Kanye necessary. All in all it was worth every anguished penny.

Earlier that month, I saw the second season of Liner Notes. This event gets bigger every time and I am so thrilled for the artists. To think I found this event through a Goldstar deal and now it is becoming an appointment event. The artists were able to move to the larger theater of the Atlas, another cool thing.  I hope soon, they tour. Think of the amazing possibilities. They could do a Philadelphia sound show in Philly, Motown in Detroit, Cleveland funk in you know, Cleveland. But I am sure they don’t need my suggestions. I just want more and more people to experience the greatness and cleverness of the show. And my goodness does Akua Allrich have a voice as clear as a bell!

Finally, my moment of disappointment, I spent serious coins to attend the Summer Spirit festival this year. Last year I won tickets and I really should have attempted the same thing this year. We wanted to buy tickets because it has been rainy all summer and wanted to be prepared for D’Angelo. Well, D’Angelo cancelled his concert in Brooklyn on the Thursday before and things were getting iffy. We were mentally, but of course not emotionally prepared, for his cancellation and it came true. This lineup was really not worth the coins without D’Angelo. My theory for these things is if the festival ticket costs less than seeing the artists individually, then it’s a bargain. That was not true. Hiatus Kaiyote was interesting but still in the opening act stage of their careers. I like Black Alley but I’ve seen them free at local venues and once for <$20 as part of a larger local artists festival lineup. Backyard Band is not a group I normally check for, so I am not sure. Busta was okay. The problem is that he did snippets of each of this songs. I did not like that. Can I get an entire song? And no, I don’t want to hear your guest appearance on other songs. Nobody cares about that Pussycat Dolls song. I remember seeing Busta 15 years ago in college. Granted we were both younger but he had such stage presence and this was lacking something. I know…full songs! It felt like someone said that they didn’t know who he was and he just ran quickly through all his songs to prove his existence. We know who he is and we didn’t need that.

They replaced D’Angelo with Raheem Devaughn which someone annoyingly said that he was a better choice. This person has no taste and shouldn’t be trusted. I think Raheem completely gave it his A game, but it really didn’t matter. We came for D’Angelo, despite all of his troubles, a gifted singer and musician who created two terrific albums. Plus, Raheem performed for free right down the street from my house for National Night Out, so that eliminates any bargains there back to my original theory.  Finally Erykah came out all late. I know this because I needed to go to the bathroom. The attendees at this year’s festival were a bit more coarse than previous years and the one time I went to the bathroom wasn’t an experience I wanted to replicate for a host of reasons. I saw Erykah during her remarkable Baduizm / Mama’s Gun tour this year ($40) and while I love her, she wasn’t my draw to the festival. There is usually a 30 minute set-up time between artists. This was 45 minutes. She really had to be good since D’Angelo didn’t make it and last year, she was in one of her moods. She was at her mesmerizing, odd best. I’ll admit I left early as I had to go to the bathroom and decided it was best to go to my own bathroom. In short, unless the festival radically changes its lineup next year, I probably won’t attend. There were so many local artists that only the lawn makes sense cost-wise. However, the crowd was more annoying and I can see getting irritated really quickly. We shall see as I always say.

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The July Wrap-Up Edition

Photo Kindly Borrowed from SoulBounce.comSo July was an extremely busy month for me. That and August are so busy that I will be forced to delay any possibility of being sick until mid-September. Sorry cold germs for the inconvenience. The last two weeks of July were quite awesome. On Friday, 19 July I went to see one of my childhood icons. When I was younger, Jody Watley was the perfect pop star to emulate in my bedroom. I would take my mom’s slip, clip it to my head, put on a flouncy skirt and strut like her videos. The 80’s were great in that women were so prominent on the music charts and videos (though it took a minute for black artists to be featured on MTV. Remember Michael had to sue? And music videos were never the same, thank goodness.) Jody was a solid fourth in my 80’s female singers list. There was my beloved Whitney, my adored Janet, the super fun Madonna and then Jody. Madonna eventually lost luster into the 90’s for me, primarily after the Justify My Love/Sex period. She was replaced with Mariah. However, Jody created two classic albums that I played over and over again.

Jody said that it was her first time in D.C. in 25 years. After the mega success of her first two solo albums, she kind of slid off the mainstream radar. Now, she mostly releases club dance music, which explains the large number of gay men at the show.  She sang her classics along with songs from her recent album, that I surprisingly really liked. But who can hate fun dance music. I got the tickets through a Goldstar deal and was a bit irritated that the show wasn’t full. I mean Jody still dances reminiscent of her Soul Train days and had a group of dancers fanning her in a circle. Why would you miss that? The funniest part is that the couple at the table with us weren’t familiar with her music and just purchased the tickets because of the deal. They stayed amazed how excited we all were and how we could sing along to every song with absolute glee. I think they were pretty converted by the end.

Portrait at the Ambassador's ResidenceThat Saturday I went a lovely garden party (well, it was extremely hot) on the grounds of the South African ambassador’s residence in honor of Nelson Mandela’s birthday. Wouldn’t it be cool if this was an exclusive invite-only shindig? But no it was a paid event. It reminded me that I never became rich. By rich, I mean the fun kind of rich that goes to Martha’s Vineyard, the Hamptons, Nice and fabulous events with gorgeous clothes and perfectly coiffed hair. I do not desire to be the kind of rich that requires arguing with other women at galas and necessitates tons of plastic surgery like on the Real Housewives franchise. I will admit I spent much of June and July on health watch seeing if Mandiba would make it to his 95th birthday. But he endured and we celebrated with live dancing, a DJ playing Black-Eyed Peas, which seemed off, and an old fashioned barbecue. Did I mention that the DJ’s music selections seemed off? I was hoping for an opportunity to hear South African contemporary music. Otherwise it was a beautiful event.

The last weekend in July I attended a wedding. Two down and one to go. I was very concerned since I was attending alone as I only knew the couple. I always hate to bring random plus ones to what I know are quite expensive events, so I usually attend solo.  I have attended weddings like this in the past with mixed results. At one wedding, the reception was held at the banquet hall of a church, which meant no secular music. And my friend sat me at a table with septuagenarian family members. Don’t get me wrong, I find a lot of senior citizens highly interesting and entertaining. However, these people were not it. I was bored to tears with no opportunity to dance, no available libations and listening to stories about World War II. The other was an absolute blast. As the groom’s family is of Indian descent and forced me to learn (yay!) all of these wonderful dances.

This wedding turned out to be the latter. As an introvert, I devised a strategy. I found another seeming singular introvert and convinced her to be friends. Turns out her husband was a groomsman and she didn’t know many people either. I also made friends with people at my table, who were staying at the same hotel. Cab score! The reception felt like an episode of Fame as the bridal party had numerous line dances that they performed. I started to feel bad as a native metro Detroiter as I only knew a few of them. We teased my new buddy’s husband as he missed rehearsal and didn’t participate in any of the dances. Slacker. There was also a dance battle with a 40+ year old, who I discovered attended the aforementioned Jody Watley concert! See how circular this post is! He battled a teenager. This terrible idea should be featured in one of those Direct TV commercials: “Don’t get caught in a dance battle with a teenager.” The reception was great and I am so happy for the couple. They met in college and reconnected years later, so they came out to “Back Together Again.” What an inspired choice.