February 28, 2013

Girls Rock SB! Benefit @ The Marjorie Luke ~ February 23, 2013

Always Leave On a High Note

Girls Rock SB! is a local organization that aims to empower young girls through music. To raise money for scholarships and instruments for their summer and after school all-girls music program, the organization hosted a night of music and dance.

MC’d by KLITE’s Catherine Remak, the night was split into two short acts. Each act was made up of five short sets, very accommodating of the young audience and their attention spans.

The first performance of act one was a 3-piece band made up of well-known local artists. The cherry on top though was the aerial performance on silk.  The young aerialist was top notched and performed what seemed like death defying stunts.

The next three performances were made up of a black and white music video, an all male high school cover rock band with young female dancing ballerinas, and an all male 2-piece acoustic set. The performances were all entertaining, but I would have liked to have seen at least one all-girl rock band in the bunch to better celebrate the cause.

The last performance of act one was quite amazing. Khasy Modisette, of The Kinds, played solo acoustic guitar along side of two aerial artists on rings. It was a beautiful dance of ballads and body movement. Both the song and the aerial dance were mesmerizing, one definitely adding to the other.

After a much needed cupcake break (donation for a good cause), act two began. Act two was stellar. In fact, I’m hard pressed to choose a favorite between the first and the last performance. But I always have to choose a favorite.

A little Jamey Getson, all of 14 years old, performed a solo acoustic song accompanied by two very young, and very strong, aerialists on silk to start off act two. A male and female duo, the two aerialists used each other’s bodies as much as they used the silk to lift and swing about. The contrast of the sweet, folksy song and the very daring aerial art was breathtaking. Literally. I thought I was going to faint I was so nervous for them all!

This performance was followed by a contemporary all female professional dance routine, and a double set by Jennifer Terran. Terran played “Hallelujah” on piano while an aerialist danced on a rope, Terran’s voice portraying just a bit of vulnerability, while the dancer showed incredible strength.

Last, but not least, was the headliner Meg Myers. Tennessee born, Myers voice and music is tinged with a southern darkness that gave me chills. A bit shy and only accompanied by a cellist, her dark sadness came across fiercely, reminiscent of a young PJ Harvey. Myers only played four songs, all passionate and full of emotion. Her voice was so strong and her ability was so tangible, it was obvious that she is a rising star.

It was great for the Girls Rock SB! benefit to end on an inspiring note for all girls looking to make music their life’s passion.

Photos by Paul Dunkley. 

February 23, 2013

The Neighbourhood @ SOhO ~ February 20, 2013

photo by paul dunkley

There Goes the Neighbourhood

You know what you are getting yourself into when you head to a sold out show of a new, young, up 'n coming indie pop band: young hipster (are we still using that term) girls. Lots of them. At the show only for the hot singer and the one radio hit. 

I was ok with that.

What I didn't expect was the air of bastardry (new term I made up) these young boys from Thousand Oaks would be emanating. 

Having only one hit off an album that came out about a year ago, these little twerps (old skool term) posed as if they were legends. Sure it's a catchy tune. Sure the lead singer, Jesse Rutherford, looked like a young tattooed Adam Levine (not that that's anything to brag about). Sure there were a lot of really young girls screaming at you from the crowd. But really? Why the attitude boys? It's very off-putting.

That said, after I refrained from punching Adam, I mean Jesse, in the face for fronting, I gave way to the music. Jesse is a very talented singer and frontman. Backed by two guitarists (Jeremy Freedman & Zach Abels), a bassists (Mikey Margott), and a very talented drummer (Bryan Sammis), The Neighbourhood effortlessly combined the elements of rock, R&B, and hip-hop to create their own bouncy sound. Most of the music sounds upbeat, but the lyrics have very dark undertones. I found myself dancing to most songs, except the really bad covers.

The Neighbourhood is talented, their music is catchy, and if you can get passed the "airs", I think they are heading upward. Damn kids! 

February 22, 2013

MIT The Entrepreneur "UpSpiral" ~ February 20, 2013

Losada Butterfly

No Where But Up

Positive psychology is quite big right now in my circle of friends. Positive psychology is the scientific (yay science) study of the good things in life that makes life worth living, making the emphasis on what’s right in your life rather than what’s wrong. Crazy, right?

During a recent MIT talk, Dr. William Larkin focused on positive psychology and how one can have an Upward Spiral in relation to entrepreneurship.

This, of course, is based on objective quantified data. Apparently, we have emotional set points. This determines whether we experience an upward or downward spiral. Dr. Larkin explained how the brain has evolved over time and how this affects how we experience life.

The amygdala produces the fight or flight response necessary of earlier humans who had to do either; this produces fear and anxiety, and a downward spiral. The insular cortex provides balance. The anterior cingulate is responsible for happy thoughts and positive influences, which produces an upward spiral. And the frontal lobe is responsible for the choice; which area of the brain to grow, the amygdala or the anterior cingulate.

Nice lesson.

Dr. Larkin noted that beliefs have an influence on which area of the brain grows. If you believe in a God of wrath, you grow a large amygdala, whereas if you believe in a God of love, you grow a large anterior cingulate. Compassionate meditation can also grow the anterior cingulate, which leads to an upward spiral.

The benefits of an upward spiral include better health, faster learning, increased creativity, better connection with others, and thriving at a cellular level – you will even produce positive cells.

Dr. Larkin went on to state that there really isn’t that much negativity in one’s life – we have just learned to dwell on the negative. People are 9:2 times more likely to dwell in the negative. Bummer.

Here are some of Dr. Larkin’s tips for living in an upward spiral:

Five ways to measure where you are on your spiral on a scale of 1-100:

1.  Subjective Well Being – how do you think   
2.  Emotional Well Being – how do you feel
3.  Vibe Core – what vibration are you sending; what do you think you want, do you believe you are gonna get it, and are you open to it?
4.  Play to Strengths – know your top 5 value strengths and your top 5 action strengths, and play them up!
5.  Decision Nucleus – your ability to make decisions and seek information

Ways to Maintain an Upward Spiral

1.  Recognize that there is an Upward Spiral
2.  Build positive Emotions
3.  Connect with People! 

Ways to build positive emotions… Emotions are quick, can last a spell, and can be intense. Think of how mad you get in traffic. How quick. How long it lasts. The intensity. Now apply that to a happy emotion… Can you? Train yourself.

Build Positive Muscles

    Concentrate on: gratitude, peace, joy, hope, love.
1.  How quick? Start small… little pulses. “Love… love… love…” at small intervals. Like at the gym.
2.  How long? How long can you sustain the feeling. Try to meditate on it. Hold it.
3.  How intense? Now grow it.

Cultivate your understanding that you can choose to be happy and live in an Upward Spiral. You can grow your positive emotions and expand it out to others. Connect with people, be open to it, and let the flow increase.

There’s nowhere but up to go! 

February 14, 2013

Hot Water Music @ The Echo, LA ~ February 5, 2013

photo by p.viani

"We are here and time is relevant to mainline every worthy moment." Mainline, HWM

Good rock and roll is essential for my well being. And good punk rock is just essential. Luckily, Hot Water Music is both.

I hate to admit it, but this was my first time seeing HWM live. Truthfully, I don't even own one of their albums (I blame a particular good music friend of mine for not supplying me with one). That said, I have seen Chuck Ragan perform solo a number of times. But it's not the same.

HWM came out hot (pun intended) and heavy, each song as intense as the last. Vocals alternated between Chuck and Chris, and I was instructed to pick a favorite between the two. I didn't have one. Both singers were soulful and powerful, and sounded as if they smoked a pack a day. The music was heavy, fueled by fast drum beats and chunky guitar. Classic post hardcore punk.

HWM is currently touring on their eighth studio album, Exister; their 7th album came out in 2004. I was very lucky to catch them on tour this time around, who knows if there will be a next time. A very worthy moment.

Flight & A Crash
State Of Grace
Trusty Chords
Jack Of All Trades
Paid In Full
Our Own Way
Drag My Body
One Step To Slip
True Believer (Bouncing Souls Cover)

February 12, 2013

Oh the Things You’ll Learn

"All the gold and the guns and the girls
(couldn’t get you off)
All the boys, all the choices in the world"
Gold, Guns, Girls - Metric

One month in and the changes are noticeable. I am already seeing, experiencing, and internalizing things differently, as if another human being has taken over my mind. Or was this human always inside there?  

Trippy. But an avalanche of “learning opportunities” have bombarded me in the short weeks of 2013. And each day brings a new understanding, a new lesson, another life changing event. How much can a person change in one month? It’s immeasurable really. 

I know I sound new-agey, but it’s true. Open yourself up and embark on a learning adventure – and you will change.  

During January I immersed myself in yoga, meditation, and the words of an astrologer. I opened myself up to the unknown, forgave myself for the past, and observed instead of controlled situations. It might not sound like much, but for an anxious guilt-ridden control freak like myself – it was a huge accomplishment. And as I am learning through this process, it requires a lot of patience and faith.  

So, what have I learned?  

Observe Instead of React
There’s a reason why observation is the first step in the scientific method. It’s a powerful tool. Observe your emotional states. Let’s say you wake up feeling lonely. Instead of acting on the feeling of loneliness – you just observe it. You’re like, “Oh, look. I feel lonely. That sucks.” And do nothing. You don’t call an ex you know isn’t right for you, you don’t go have a whiskey drink – you merely accept, “Hey I’m human. I’m lonely. This will pass.”  Sit with it, and it will pass. Feelings are only temporary. 

Eliminate the Void 
You've heard the old pizza slogan "avoid the Noid," well that's what ran through my head during this lesson, although it was actually "avoid filling the void" (same difference to this 80’s kid). Too often people try to fill their inner void. You feel empty  – lonely, angry, sad, lost; so you fill up with things – food, booze, partners, shoes. And when those things are gone, the void is back, and the cycle begins again. And again, and again, and again.... So the right thing to do is to eliminate the void, so there is no longer a void to fill. You eliminate the void by loving yourself so completely that you are always whole. Simple. No Noid required.   

Let Go of Attachment  
Attachment requires one to be obsessed with possessing an outside object in order to be happy. I do this with lipstick, it's really weird. But you got to stop looking for outside sources to make yourself feel better. Happiness does not come from external sources, true happiness comes from within. Hippy talk I know. But, to quote Metric, all the gold and the guns and the girls is never gonna be enough. You have to be.

Or you can go out and get drunk, have a one night stand or hook up with an ex. Because that always works out great. 


January in a nutshell: 
  • 1Jan13: “Be True to Yourself” meditation lecture at the Mahakankala Buddhist Center (MBC)
  • 6Jan13: Started “Letting Go of Bad Habits” 6 week  meditation series at  MBC and “40 Day Yoga Challenge” at Power of Your OM  (POYO)
  • 12Jan13: Met with renown psychic Beth McDonald for a natal, transit, and year astrological chart reading 
  • 20Jan13:  Plateau-ed (aka "got over it!") and ate a shit ton of chocolate chip cookies to make myself feel better (attachment much?)   
  • 26Jan13: “Breaking Free from Attachment” meditation day retreat  at MBC and  “Yoga’licious” Girls Night Out at POYO