spotlight series: an interview with shannon willis

One of the first times Shannon Willis played her guitar “publicly”, she was nowhere to be seen.  Rather, her soft yet powerful voice and the mellow strums of John Lennon’s “Imagine” provided what was supposed to be background music to a performance for a dance class.  The tune captivated the audience and stole the show.

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chance the rapper: forest hills stadium review

As I mentioned in my second post about Firefly over the summer, the first time I saw Chance the Rapper perform, I was so far away from the stage that I felt as connected to the performance if I had just watched it on my television at home.  Luckily, I was given the ~chance~ to rectify this experience at Chance’s September 26th performance at Forest Hills Stadium.


Chance is one of my favorite artists for a lot of reasons, and his transparency is something I admire most.  I think that technology allows people to be almost too accessible, but Chance has a penchant for giving people small, but arguably the most meaningful insights into his life.  Sure, he’ll go on Twitter to talk about a move he thought Rotten Tomatoes rated poorly (an actual story that made headlines yesterday), but an overwhelming amount of his platform is dedicated to discussing injustices and causes he cares about, as well as ways his fans can help in a way that is still effective yet not our of their means.

…But back to the concert.  Opening for Chance was Francis and the Lights.  His performance, though I’m not too verses in his music, was sweet.  He said to the audience he felt like it was not proper for an opener to gush about the main performer, but did not stop himself from giving Chance some compliments.  Francis has a performance style best described as eccentric.  His music relies heavily on a thick, auto-tuned voice as well as guitar solos he takes the time to dance through.  There’s something haunting about his vocals.

Between opener and main performer was a set by DJ Oreo.  Though I was unfamiliar with him before, I’ve decided I now love no one more.  His set was eclectic and varied — his transitions went from Miley Cyrus to Marvin Gaye – and he seemed really comfortable interacting with an audience he knew was itching for Chance.   I also checked out his Facebook page and he posts inspirational quotes every day.  Here’s a recent verse: To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.

Something that confused me about Chance’s Firefly performance was his incredulousness at the amount of people that had come to see him, figuring, surely there could not be that many Chance the Rapper fans.  I thought maybe this was an act, perhaps he was playing coy — how could someone doubt the amount of people interested in their music at a festival they are headlining? Yet, at Forest Hills, he did it again. Chance spoke about how grateful he was to have been put in this position – one he wouldn’t be in had it not been for the people supporting him.  His entire Be Encouraged tour honors the people whose support is marked by longevity: he plays with the Social Experiment and performs songs from old albums including Surf, and Acid Rap, as well as features from The Life of Pablo.

Chance talked to the audience a lot about how fearless people are the most intimidating out there, and encouraged those who knew they were fearless to recognize when that was lacking in others in order to let them burst through that threshold into uninhibited fearlessness.

For the first time in concert, Chance performed his new song “First World Problems”.  It wasn’t perfectly polished, and in that, the lyrics were more poignant as he discussed his desires to step back from the social spotlight, missing his daughter and feeling like he isn’t doing enough for her, and the sense of responsibility all people should feel during times of uncertainty to rectify what they can.

Chance’s performance left me feeling whole.  His unwavering faith and desire to go and do and be better is inspiring. See below for his full setlist and a photo of him looking extra.

 

 

bridget

 

festival fashion basics from a not so festival basic

Before I went to Firefly Music Festival, my good friend Alexa told me she could not wait for me to have the experience because as a seasoned festival-goer, she has not found a place that makes her feel more self-assured and at peace.  Alexa has a vested interest in this scene and I wanted to get a better understanding of what this lifestyle meant to her — the people, the clothing, the music, the community, and how they’re all interconnected.

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“kid gorgeous” by john mulaney: a review

On Thursday, July 20th, John Mulaney put on his best suit (perhaps this time, coming straight from his Confirmation) and set out to “win his crowd” — advice he told the audience of Port Chester, NY was prophetic knowledge bestowed unto him by Ray Lewis in 2013.  Among other reactions to this enigma including going on a juice cleanse, doing a little sleuthing to uncover the meaning behind Lewis’s vague “..when I was going through what I went through…”, and launching a sit-com on Fox, which Mulaney himself called “an unmitigated… disaster.”

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my (even later) firefly round up pt. 2

So as I said in my first post about Firefly Music Festival in Dover, Delaware, I wanted to make an entirely separate post about the performances I saw to really get into each one without posting a mini-novel that no one would read.  And a month later, I am finally delivering.  (To be fair, I still think about a lot of these performances daily, so I feel fine about the delay in this post’s publication).

 

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my (kind of late) firefly round-up pt. 1

Last month I set out to Dover, Delaware for my first-ever music / camping festival, Firefly.  This was unlike anything I’ve done before: the closest I had come to camping prior was sleeping in a tent in my backyard with some friends one night in high school.  I’m pretty sure we all went inside when it got too cold.

But this (obviously) was different. Luckily, I went with a bunch of people who were familiar with camping festivals as a whole as well as Firefly in particular, and they definitely saved me from making tons of rookie mistakes.  I had less time to worry and more time to just enjoy myself. Here’s my assessment (don’t I make everything sound like so much fun?!) of different aspects of the festival:

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summer reads

Yesterday on Instagram (shameless LipLiner plug, oh well), I asked our followers to tell me the title of the best book they’ve read in the past year so I can keep my eye out for new picks to add to my “To Read” list. To show that I not only walk to walk, but ~talk the talk~ too, I’ve decided to detail the books I’ve read this summer thus far in hopes that maybe one of these will make it onto your own reading list!

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national poetry month + some of my favs

Happy April, people! The World Wide Web told me that April is National Poetry Month and I thought that it would be fun to kick it off by sharing some of my favorites.  Poetry, and I, though I consider it a dear love of mine, have a pretty complicated relationship.  I remember when I was a lot younger I thought that any string of sentences

with

a lot

of spaces

was a poem, and my early writing reflects that greatly.  Interestingly enough, as I’ve grown as a writer, I’ve come to see that poetry is perhaps where my writing is the most honest, probably attributed to the fact that ideas for poems come to me one line at a time and are often strung together after the fact.  I am no where near considering myself a poet, in fact, I was way too chicken to try out for the slam poetry team when I was in college, so I have great admiration for poets who are confident in their work and in their ability to present personal material that is able to resonate deeply with others.

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