Happy Festivus! (one day late)

I was planning to post this on actual Festivus, but I got distracted in the best way possible (getting together with old friends and playing Super Smash Bros.). In any case, it’s less of a holiday post and more of an end-of-the-year-lollapalooza sort of thing. I started out with just the odds & ends but somehow this turned into an actual project that involved me reviewing all my blog posts from this year, because it’s Christmas Festivus break and there is time for these things.

So without further ado, here’s my Favorites of 2014 post, i.e. a rambly recap of stuff I blogged about in 2014, with probably too many links.

dealwithit

Nikki’s Favorites of 2014

Favorite Concert: It was an *excellent* year for shows. I got to see three of my very favorites: Paul Simon, Paul McCartney, and Tom Petty, plus was introduced to Deerhoof, Mac DeMarco, and awesome local band James Rabbit. I saw OK Go for a 7th and 8th time, the Mountain Goats for a second, and The Spencer Owen Timeshare for an umpteenth (I added some photos!). But I think my favorite show, even with the obnoxious drunk couple next to us, was Kishi Bashi. It was so much fun and I’m super stoked he’s coming back to play at the Palace of Fine Arts next month!

Favorite New Album: My favorite for purely personal reasons (plus the fact that “I Won’t Let You Down” is my jam) was Hungry Ghosts. OK Go foreverrrrrrrr.

Favorite Rockstar Tweet: Probably Ringo and his gratuitous use of emojis.

Favorite Book: So like everything on here, I’m subject to extreme bias, and also I didn’t read that many books that actually came out in 2014. I did really love I’ll Give You the Sun (YA), but Wolf In White Van was both my most anticipated and most enjoyed.

Favorite Movie: Boyhood. For a disgustingly sentimental person like me, there’s no other choice.

Favorite Obsession: Queeeeeeen! Music videos in drag, songs about space, Roger Taylor’s face, etc. It was bound to happen. (I wonder if I’ll ever stop being such a fangirl…I sure hope not.)

Oh yeah, and those resolutions? I like to think they were pretty successful. The big accomplishment was redoing this blog and moving it over to WordPress, which I’m still very happy about. And I definitely listened to more records, thanks to spurts of record-hunting with Alex and the addition of biweekly game nights at our apartment (listening to Vangelis while playing Wiz War is super legit). The last resolution was to read more, which I have been (I joined a book club at work!). But I have to admit, I’m only still halfway through that Beatles biography, hahah. For 2015: finish that Beatles biography!!

A few more odds & ends:

  • Joe Cocker: we lost a great voice in rock and blues the other day. :( If watching a waterfront performance with my dad from a kayak in the San Diego Bay counts, Joe Cocker was my first concert. I used to listen to his Beatles covers on record and imitate his spastic way of singing. Mandatory video link: “Con un poco de ayuda de mis amigos” :)
  • I get weirdly into watching chick flicks when I’m at home for the holidays (probably in the same way Alex always watches classic action movies while I’m away). This week I’ve already watched Love Actually and You’ve Got Mail, and next on the list is Hannah and her Sisters…although you probably wouldn’t classify that one as a chick flick.
  • I also tend to rekindle my silent movie love when I have lots of spare time alone. This year, it’s Buster all the way. I’ve been watching YouTube videos like a fiend. I don’t think I’ve ever fully expressed how much of a dreamboat I think Buster Keaton is, so I will leave you with this, a montage of The Great Stone Face set to “Hot Stuff” by Donna Summer:

Into the Great Wide Open

Just some miscellany for you on this fine Friday eve…

1.

OK Go’s new album Hungry Ghosts officially comes out next week, but you can hear the whole thing now at Hype Machine! Thanks to pre-orders and two OK Go concerts this summer, a lot of these songs already feel like old favorites (“The One Moment,” “I Won’t Let You Down”), but hearing them as part of a full album somehow brings back the magic of experiencing them for the first time. After a few listens, my favorite new songs are “If I Had a Mountain” (SO Prince) and “Bright As Your Eyes.” Can’t wait to have my own copy, and for the new music video(s) to come out!

OK_Go_-_Hungry_Ghosts_cover_art

2.

Last weekend I saw TOM PETTY & THE HEARTBREAKERS in San Jose, and it was epic. A real American rock & roll show, as Tom put it. Poor Alex was suffering from the Bruce Springsteen Effect (throwback to 2009 when Lauren and I couldn’t stay awake during the Boss’s 2+ hour set at the end of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame concert). Nevertheless, I like to think he enjoyed at least the hits, and/or wasn’t too embarrassed with me trying to perfect my Petty impression during “Yer So Bad.” Unlike a lot of other classic rockers who have understandably gone hoarse (Roger Daltrey, I still love you), Tom Petty still sounds exactly like Tom Petty. And his hair is still so unbelievably groomed (is it fake now? I’m too scared to ask Google).

TOMSHAIR
That hair…so smooth and silky…

Anyway, the show was awesome and I quite enjoyed Tom’s stage quips: “Whaddaya say, San Jose?!” (such a dad phrase) and “Thank you SO MUCH” x1000. I also thought it was cool that they played “So You Want to Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star” and a rowdy version of “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone,” which I had no idea was originally recorded by Paul Revere & The Raiders. We had pretty good seats on the floor level and near the middle, but I would love to someday see a show like this from the first few rows. Maybe next time TP & the Heartbreakers play Outside Lands….

3.

And of course, Happy Lenntwistle Day! I searched through Tumblr to find two pictures of these guys being their awesome selves:

johnny JUNagain

Is J.L. on a skateboard? And I know he’s flipping the British equivalent of the bird, but he’s doing it so HAPPILY! I’ve never seen that pic before and I love it. Meanwhile, J.E. makes a fashion statement out of leather pants, a scarf, and a wacky bass guitar. How can you not love them?

Utah weekend by the numbers

790 miles traveled in 1 day

526 / 9 minutes/hours of Beatles listened to, nonstop

456 Beatles songs on my iPod

at least 5 attempts to obtain the Past Masters albums

10 drum corps watched

8th time seeing OK Go in concert

Thursday. Let me just say that marathoning the 13 U.S. Beatles’ albums in order was probably the best way to spend all day in a car (and the only reason I’ll listen to Revolution #9 in its entirety). It’s hard to listen to the entire Beatles catalog because so many of their singles are not included on the albums…and as mentioned above, it was impossible to stream Past Masters using a phone. But to make up for it, we also listened to plenty of Live at the BBC and Anthologies 1 & 2. I realized during this marathon that Let It Be might actually be my favorite Beatles album??? (the Naked version, that is). The things you learn on the road….

Thursday night, Lauren, Jocelyn, and I reunited at Jocelyn’s apartment in Provo and promptly sat down to catch up on drum corps. The 2014 show that I’ve been hyping all season is Bluecoats’ Tilt (watch the closer and awesome crowd hype/BLOO). Congrats to Bluecoats on their silver medal and to BD for a world record high score! I love this activity so much.

Friday. We spent the day around Provo and the night in Salt Lake City for OK Go! First off, the State Room in SLC is AWESOME: spacious but intimate (especially because OK Go only uses like 1/4 of the stage), and a good mix of seating and standing space. Really cool venue! And the show was one of my favorites of all time. I love all the visual effects on this tour, from the double screens to crazy optical illusions. OK Go puts on a great show. :) My favorite song of the set was “The One Moment,” which they played during the encore. Oh, and listening to the new EP yesterday, I realized that I can’t hear “The Writing’s On the Wall” without envisioning huge bursts of confetti raining down on me, which makes me so, so happy.

I only spent one full day in Utah (seems to be the norm, at least the last 3 times I’ve visited!), but I couldn’t have asked for a better time. Especially reuniting with my favorite OK Go show buddies:

4457_577294307354_8078243_nOur first OK Go concert together: San Diego, 2009.

  IMG_20140808_230321501_1Salt Lake City, 2014.

OK Go fans for life!!

A personal and humble tribute to OK Go

I’ve been working on this post on and off for over a year now, waiting for the right moment to post it. I think the time has finally come, seeing as OK Go has just announced their new album and a summer tour. IT’S ALL HAPPENING! *cue confetti*

I think most people know by now that OK Go is my favorite non-60s band. Oh No was the soundtrack to my senior year of high school, just like Of the Blue Colour of the Sky perfectly defined my last year of college. Most importantly, OK Go will always be associated with some of my fondest memories of growing upincluding hours of video-filming with best buddies Alie, Jocelyn, and Lauren. Their music kept the four of us together even though we were quite evenly spread throughout the country post-high school. We reunited for shows, bought new albums together, and sent each other links to music videos. If the trend continues, I have a feeling 2014 is going to be a very good year. :)

A chronological list of our many encounters with OK Go 
(and how I became Dan’s creeper friend on Facebook):

1. The Dance Video. It was winter break of 2005, halfway through our senior year of high school, when Jocelyn had the ingenious idea of recreating OK Go’s “A Million Ways” music video. At the time, I’d never heard of the band, but was easily sold by their excellent dance moves and stylish attire. As a result, the four of us spent nine hours on the last day of winter break learning the carefully-choreographed dance, and when it got too late to film the final video, we devised a plan to film it during a five-minute break at lunch the next day, which was the last chance we had before Lauren flew back to the east coast that afternoon (The Plan involved Lauren sneaking onto the Vista High campus by pretending she was having lunch with our assistant band director).

At this point, YouTube was only about a year old and although it’s hard to believe now, putting your homemade fan videos online was still a novelty. We actually emailed the band with the YouTube link to our video, on the off chance that they (or someone in their crew) would see it and be amused. The next day I got a reply from drummer Dan Konopka himself(!), complimenting our efforts. Because I played Dan in our video, I thought this was especially awesome.

2. The Dance Contest. That summer, OK Go held a video contest on YouTube, encouraging fans to make their own Million Ways dance video and post them on OK Go’s page. Of course we entered the contest, and of course we didn’t win. But we still each got an “I Lost the OK Go Dance Contest” trophy (they must have mailed out so many of those) and the satisfaction of knowing that ours was one of the first Million Ways videos ever made.

3. The Colbert Report and 1.5 seconds of fame. At the end of the summer 2006, sometime before heading off to college, I received the following message on YouTube, which is still in my inbox: Hello! I work at the colbert report and we’re interested in featuring your video on the show (tonight!) Obviously, because of the time frame, I need to know ASAP if this interests you. Um, yes it interested us?! After a bunch of frantic form signing and scanning, we gathered a small audience and watched our video on The Colbert Report that night, for about a total of 1.5 seconds (around 2:55, if you’re interested).


(Side note: the treadmill video also came out that summer but I was on tour with Esperanza, and didn’t see it until I got back in August. Suddenly, everyone knew who OK Go was! I have very distinct memories of seeing “Here It Goes Again” all over the TVs at the John Wooden Center at UCLA.)

4. The Extras. The band also released a special edition of Oh No with supplemental material, including a bunch of fan videos. Our Million Ways video was once again featured, after some more tricky release form-signing (at that point I was in California, Lauren in Massachusetts, Jocelyn in Idaho, and Alie in Utah).

5. The Voicemail. One day, OK Go visited Harvard, which happened to be where Lauren went to school. From what I understand, the visit mostly consisted of them playing Guitar Hero and meeting people. Lauren got to talk to the band and even had Dan Konopka leave a voicemail on my phone (what would I have said if I’d answered the call?!). I wish wish wish I still had the voicemail, but to my infinite dismay it departed along with my outdated flip phone.

6. The Guitar Pick and Autumn Leaves. Over the next few years, I saw OK Go in concert 6 times, including at the beach (Encinitas Bro-Am) and in the forest (Stern Grove in SF). At the first show I went to in Hollywood, I caught Andy’s guitar pick when he threw it into the audience, but a psycho girl literally PRIED it out of my hands. At another show with Jocelyn, Damian came out into the audience and stood DIRECTLY in front of us to play “Autumn Leaves.” He even turned around halfway through the song so that his butt was no longer in our faces. Photographic evidence (no zoom on these pics):

Another time, when Lauren, Jocelyn, and I went to their show at the San Diego House of Blues, we saw the band strolling down the street outside the venue, because they could. OK Go definitely has a devoted following, but aren’t so crazy-famous they can’t just hang out wherever they want. Which brings me to…

7. The Picture Frame. Fast forward to 2010. The winter after graduating college I worked a seasonal job at Aaron Brothers in Studio City. I hated it, BUT, a couple days before Christmas, who walks in but Dan Konopka. He was looking for a picture frame for his mother-in-law and I HELPED HIM PICK IT OUT. I think the first thing I blurted out when I saw him was “I know you!!” which, out of the blue, is a really weird thing to say. Dan looked confused and I tried to save myself by explaining what a big fan I was of his band (I didn’t reveal that he had once left a voicemail on my phone, or that I had an email from him saved in my inbox, or that I was his counterpart in our Million Ways dance video). He was super nice and I think a little surprised at how excited I was to meet him. But after all that, how could I not be?!

Apparently after that I friended Dan on Facebook (I actually have no memory of doing this, I’m sorry for being so creepy, Dan!) and luckily/strangely, he accepted. So now I get to see pictures of his adorable son and the occasional OK Go update and it always brightens my day.

Since that awesome encounter, there have been a lot of milestones. Alie got married, Jocelyn got married, I moved to San Francisco, and Lauren moved from Cambridge to Indianapolis to Fullerton to Minneapolis to Palo Alto! It’s been 8 and a half years since Jocelyn fatefully introduced the rest of us to OK Go, and I am so, so glad she did.

A message to the band: thanks for all the memories, and see you this summer!

when the morning comes

Jocelyn and I saw OK Go last weekend and it. was. amazing. My 5th time(!) seeing them, and definitely the best yet! As a part of my current OK Go kick, today I listened to all 3 of their albums back to back, and compiled a list of my top 10 favorite OK Go songs, complete with videos. Voila:

Nikki’s Top 10 OK Go Songs

1. What To Do
I especially like the acoustic version linked above. Also, singing along during the chorus is one of my favorite things to do.

2. Bye Bye Baby
I’ve always loved this one, and the lyrics “It’s not just that I’m selfish and scared / It’s not just that I’m so unprepared / It’s just you’d think I’d grow out of this, wouldn’t you?”

3. This Too Shall Pass
One word: epic. I remember when we first heard this at the House of Blues show in SD…we all loved it, but couldn’t remember the words until the album came out 8 months later!

4. Get Over It
We’ve all felt this way before…it’s a good venting song. And just fun to sing along with.

5. A Million Ways
We have so much history with this song, it’s impossible not to include. That aside, it’s just cool anyway. :)

6. Oh Lately It’s So Quiet
I really like the atmosphere of this song. PS – The video I found of this is great, you should watch it.

7. Last Leaf
OK Go does a cute love song! Also, this is the song Damian sang while standing 10 inches away from us in the crowd!

8. Return
The saddest of all OK Go songs. They played this on handbells at the Club Nokia show, which made it seem even sadder (but also really cool).

9. Invincible
This song brings back distinct memories of driving in the high school parking lot senior year…I listened to that album so much, haha.

10. Let It Rain
I’ve listened to this so many times while driving at night (also in the rain) and it’s just become one of my favorites.

So there’s my top 10, subject to change at any time. Anyone else?

Of the Blue Colour of the Sky

edit: OK. Just stop everything right now and take a couple minutes to watch this video and you will see why OK Go is so amazing to me. SERIOUSLY. It is unbelievable how amazing they are.

Original post: OK Go’s new album comes out tomorrow!!!! You better bet I’ll be on the first bus to Amoeba after class gets out. I am stoked. Back in May last year when Jocelyn, Lauren, and I saw OK Go in San Diego, they played a bunch of songs from this album and we’ve been (not so) patiently waiting for it ever since! You can listen to the album in full here. So far my favorites are “This Too Shall Pass”, “Skyscrapers”, and “Last Leaf”. I LOVE THIS BAND!

The new single/video for the song is a major trip (in Damian’s words, “psychediculous”). Check it out!

The “making of” video is also pretty great. Dan-with-chair is still my favorite part.

Also, I feel terrible for not knowing this until today, but Ringo Starr also has a new album due out tomorrow! Ahhh what a horrible Beatles fan I am! The first two videos here give you a sneak peek. I’ve never really gotten too into Ringo’s solo stuff, but the two songs in these videos feature Paul McCartney aaaand tabla. What’s not to like??

lipstick and callous and fishnets and malice

(Excluding the obvious like Beatles/Stones/etc.) OK GO IS MY FAVORITE BAND EVER. Definitely my favorite band in existence today. A few key reasons:

They are incredibly well-dressed

They love paisley/floral/decorative prints

Their videos remind me of us

Ahh, this band has been a source of so many great times over the past 3 years. Since making our dance video (before I ever even knew who OK Go were), I’ve seen them live in Hollywood, Lauren has met the band, Dan has sent me an email and also left a voicemail on my phone, we’ve been on their DVD, and were featured not once but TWICE on the Colbert Report. And in case you didn’t know, Jocelyn, Lauren, and I recently went to see them play at the San Diego House of Blues, which was everything I’d ever hoped for (and more). I LOVE THIS BAND!!

Our two seconds of fame (2:55)