Tuesday, August 18, 2009

[Concert Review: Incubus]

I've never written a [true] concert review before, but I go to enough concerts that I feel I should start. And what better one to start with than with my all-time favorite band Incubus? Though realistically, there are few bands that I can recognize every song they play, as well as sing along with every song at the concert - like I can with Incubus. So we'll see how that goes...

Anyway, I attended the Incubus show on Sunday, August 16 at Bayfront Park in Miami. The weather was perfect [not humid, not raining, not hot - unreal for South Florida actually], the amphitheater is small so even my lawn seats had a relatively good view and the atmosphere was great.

A band from London called The Duke Spirits opened; they were alright for an opening band - nothing spectacular, nothing horrible. They were the only band before Incubus though, so I think that made me able to tolerate them more.

After the break between bands, Incubus comes out - and opens with my all-time favorite Incubus song 'Pardon Me'. I about cried I was so happy. [/mindless babble]. Overall they played 18 songs:

-Pardon Me
-Nice to Know You
-Anna Molly
-Love Hurts
-Just a Phase
-Drive (acoustic)
-Talk Show on Mute (acoustic)
-Dig (acoustic)
-Look Alive
-Oil and Water
-A Kiss to Send Us Off
-Wish You Were Here
-Aqueous Transmission

-Are You In?
-Cover of the Prince song "Let's Go Crazy"

It was an amazing setlist, in my opinion, with 6 songs coming from "Morning View", arguably their best album. The best part was they played the songs we know and love, but added enough flavor to each song so it wasn't like listening to a live version of a CD. For instance, they inserted an extended break in the middle of the song 'Drive', even stopping to talk with the audience for a bit before finishing the song; they played the song 'Dig' with a kind of latin rhythm that really sounded great, and they played 'Are You In?' in a jazzy style, that contrasted nicely with the other encore song 'Let's Go Crazy'.

I took some video clips of some of the performances; depending on if you can hear anything worthwhile, I'll make a compilation video of some of them.

Overall, this was an excellent concert and I would highly recommend that anyone who likes anything by Incubus go see them live - its a concert experience you don't want to miss.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

[Summer of Reading]

I've been slacking blog-wise this summer, but I've been making up for it by baking and reading a lot, so that has to count for something! I'll post about my summer baking adventures another time, but this post is about the lovely books I have read throughout this summer. [Click on the images of the book covers to visit the book's Barnes and Noble page.]

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
-This is the first book by Gladwell I have read, but I will definitely be on the lok out for his other works. This book is about outliers: people who have risen above and beyond "normal people" to achieve great successes due to their intelligence and skills. However, Gladwell makes the argument, using many facts, statistics, and easily identified examples, that all these people started out with a very tiny advantage that increased exponentially as they grew as people and within their respective fields. He also explains the 10,000 hour phenomenon, in which a person has to basically put in 10,000 hours [~10 years] of hard-working practice/devotion toward something [be it composing music or computer programming] to become a master at it. These are just two of many things Gladwell talks about in his book, and I highly recommend this fascinating read to everyone.

Fragile Eternity by Melissa Marr
-This is book three in the Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr, the first two books being Wicked Lovely and Ink Exchange. The premise of the books is that high-schooler Aislynn has been able to see faeries (ever-present and ever-mischevious) since she was born, but was always warned never to let them know that she could see them. They find out and chaos ensures, including her becoming a faerie queen herself (and hence immortal) and having to deal with normal life mixed with faerie court intrigues. I loved Wicked Lovely and rushed to buy Ink Exchange when it was released; however, I greatly disliked Ink Exchange, so I was hesitant to read this third one. I did though and I'm happy I did, as I've regained hope in the series. Book 4, Radiant Shadows, is announced to come out, but a release date hasn't been given yet. It will be interesting to see how Marr continues her faerie saga.

Identical by Ellen Hopkins
-I have seen people reading books by Ellen Hopkins from as far back as early high school, but the stories [usually dealing with teenagers on drugs] never seemed to interest me - until this one. Identical sisters Kaeleigh and Reanne appear to have an awesome life: politician mother, court judge father, successful high schools lives. However, that's all on the surface, since their lives are anything but perfect, including abuse of varying types, an oblivious mother, and varying secrets that reveal themselves throughout the book with hints along the way to the really big one. I would recommend this book, as it is definitely one of the most interesting twists I have read in a book in a long time, but I will also say that it is one of the most intense books I have ever read and that I personally felt emotionally drained by the end of it...

-The Mortal Instruments Trilogy by Cassandra Clare
City of Bones/City of Ashes/City of Glass
-I borrowed the first book [City of Bones] from the library as I had heard multiple people recommend the series to me. I started reading it and was bored: the story was predictable, the characters very boring, and basically uninteresting overall. I even removed by bookmark at one point, giving up on the books. But I remembered those recommendations and kept at it - and WOW am I glad I did. The story picked up the story sucked me in and I finished the book at 3:45am the morning of one of my summer class finals; I was hooked enough to go out and buy all three books that evening and finished the second and third books within 2 days of buying them [these are not short books, by the way, averaging 400 pages each]. This fantasy trilogy centers around the world of the Shadowhunters, a race of people given the job by an angel to rid the earth of demons, who travel here from other dimensions. The story centers around Clary, a girl whose just enjoying life. but quickly gets sucked into this world, finding out she is descended from the Shadowhunter line and that she needs to stop a very powerful Shadowhunter-gone-bad in order to save her mother. This series was definitely my favorite reads of the summer and I'm glad I stuck it out.