February 11, 2008

A Fitting End to an Extraordinary Blogging Experience

Encased_grammy_2After a weekend of preparation and a summer of hopeful anticipation, the 2008 Grammys and with it, my mobile blogging experience, are officially in the books. Beyond hectic during pre-show, the excitement that was covering the Grammys during pre-show was not only a historic event, but something that I don’t think I ever would have thought I would have the opportunity to do.

So much of this day was about learning as you go. From wandering around for over an hour to try and check in, only to find that the check-in area no longer existed (which everyone found a little weird), to the red carpet turning into a near-free for all as soon as the biggest names started arriving, this was a day without instruction nor time-outs. Thankfully, I ended up finding some really nice journalists, cameramen, and photographers to hang out with on the red carpet, making all the confusion a little bit easier to handle collectively. As individuals, there was confusion. But as a whole, it was some frantic fun on a Sunday afternoon.

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February 10, 2008

Next Stop: Staples Center and the 2008 Grammy Awards

Leaving As expected, I got about three hours of sleep last night. While adrenaline and little kid Christmas-like excitement are things that I hope never get old, it does get a little old when you could really use a little some rest the night before an exciting day. I'm heading out to Staples Center to find my spot on the line and see just exactly what's going on out there.

While putting the finishing touches on my ensemble, I've come to realize that my neck has definitely gotten thicker since the last wedding I've attended. It must be the pilates. I got all geared out in my room to see how it would feel to have all my gadgets on me and I have to say that I end up looking like a robo-tourist. I'd have it no other way.

Next stop: Staples Center.

Pre-Grammy sleep is not easy to come by...

Livingroom I just checked into my home for "Grammy season" and am getting settled for what I hope to be a decent night of sleep before a day/night of nonstop blogging and photos tomorrow. Just when I'm coming to terms with this whole weekend, something comes through and gets me going all over again, like this lovely living room I'm sitting in right now. Anyways, this area is going to act as my "war room," where I hope to regain some sanity tomorrow night and put together everything that I wasn't able to do from the street. Not that anyone was really envisioning where I was sitting, but I always find it interesting to see what someone's "office" looks like. For the weekend, this is my office!

*cue Cassidy f. R. Kelly - "Hotel"*

Before I curl up in my bed (which could fit about five of me in it, in any direction) with some Billboard magazines to read for good luck, I wanted to take a look at some of the categories that I'm most interested in for the Grammys tomorrow night. While this list is by no means all inclusive, it includes those that I'll be clapping for like a seal begging for fish and beach balls (I assume they enjoy that) tomorrow night. They're not predictions per se, because I don't know if I would want to be wrong to that many people at once, but they're the categories that happen to be the most interesting for me.

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February 09, 2008

'Twas the Night Before the Grammys...

Though I've had some time to think about it, it's still a little hard to believe that by this time tomorrow, I will have already seen the opening performance at the 2008 Grammy Awards.

Riding_around I have no doubt that I'll be sweatier than an advertisement for prescription strength deodorant (please, don't let me down tomorrow), begging to use a bathroom, and exhausted from a long day of photographing, running around, blogging, and adrenaline roller coasters galore, but really, what could be better?

If you're reading this and have never had the opportunity to attend an award show before, I wanted to give some "normal guy" insight into what it's like to get ready in the days leading up to the show.

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September 17, 2007

Pre-Emmy Celebration at Opera and Crimson in Hollywood, CA. September 15, 2007.

I believe Confucius once said, "If you're going to go out, go out big with an Emmy party." While I attribute much of what has been a pretty unbelievable summer to being a part of this dark corner (really, the colors are dark) of Billboard.com, LG has also been such a huge part of this whole experience as well. From providing the bloggers with phones and random LG goodies inside our stylish Billboard backpacks (which I take to the beach with me in hopes of attracting women while I deliberately walk backwards and make declarative, minor lies like, "I MAKE LOTS OF MONEY!!!") to giving us this opportunity to share our experiences with a tiny slice of the online world, I am beyond grateful to everyone I've interacted with at LG and at Billboard for inspiring me to make the most of this summer. While the Billboard name has helped me out tremendously this summer, it was LG that gave me the opportunity to hang out in the outdoor LG lounge while I rubbed elbows with some of my favorite Hollywood stars at a pre-Emmy party on Saturday night.


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September 15, 2007

Marie' Digby's Residency Kickoff at The Hotel Cafe' in Hollywood, CA. September 11, 2007

Depending on who you talk to, the drama that was last week for Marie' Digby came at either the best or worst possible time. While most would love to be on the front page of the Wall Street Journal like Digby was last week, the rising star was portrayed in an unfavorable light in the nationwide publication. On her end, Marie had only her MySpace page, live shows, and fans to defend herself from an article that filled the blogosphere (and even took over the comment section of my previous post as of late) this past week. The article made its way onto breakfast tables the week before the YouTube star was about to kickoff a month long residency at the famed SoCal music hot spot, The Hotel Cafe'. Coinciding with the release of Digby's new four-song EP to iTunes, for the first time in a while, there was some question as to whether Digby's positive momentum would continue after the article cast a shadow on her recent success. As I walked up to the venue an hour before the doors opened and saw a line already forming against the wall. It was clear that Digby's fans were still coming out to support her and they would continue to come out in a very big way. Perhaps surprisingly, Marie' was not about to shy away from addressing the events of the past week. But not surprisingly, Marie' continued to impress with her original music and stage presence, and ultimately left everyone excited about what the future holds for the up and coming star.


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September 11, 2007

Hall & Oates: The Hollywood Bowl, Hollywood, CA 9.8.07

So, this is it.  This is the culmination of what will be a memorable summer.  I am immensely grateful for this opportunity and want to thank Billboard for this chance.  I especially want to thank them for making this show possible for me to attend.


This was my first time at the historic Hollywood Bowl, the largest open-air amphitheatre I’ve ever visited.  Seated in a comfy terrace box seat with removable tables, I was surrounded by similar booths with couples and groups having an outdoor picnic under a cool Los Angeles night sky.  I look around and it’s just thousands upon thousands of people, all there for one reason, Hall and Oates.

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September 10, 2007

Goo Goo Dolls: The Greek Theatre, Los Angeles, CA 9.6.07

It was a crisp and cool night and the Greek Theatre was filled once again for another great show.  I cannot get over the fact at what a great venue it is.  You’ve got the open air, a cool night, and great music to enjoy.  Coming into this show familiar mostly with the Goo Goo Dolls’ singles, I was curious what their stage show would have in store.


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Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Kings of Leon, San Diego Sept. 8, 2007

On Saturday, I drove down from LA to the hot blonde-filled SDSU campus to take in two popular rock bands that I was unfamiliar with, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and Kings of Leon. Honestly, rock music is probably the genre that I'm least familiar with out of all the radio friendly genres. Rock music has just really never been my thing, despite the fact that I grew up in the Pacific Northwest during the peak of the Nirvana/Pearl Jam grunge rock days (I think I was too busy listening to Sir Mixalot's "Baby Got Back" in my parents' Ford Taurus and waving my hands wildly while I sang "Emotions" by Mariah Carey). Some of my friends had seen this duo perform the night before in LA and told me that I was in for a great show, so after a morning of surfing (AKA Dave Chung falling repeatedly in the water in front of hot women) I was excited to take in some real rock music - not punk rock or pop rock - just rock. As the enthusiastic audience that spawned the first mosh pit I've seen this summer would tell you, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and Kings of Leon turned it out on Saturday night with performances that halted all academic activity on the college campus and invited everyone to come down to the Open Air Arena and rock out with the bands.


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September 02, 2007

Marie’ Digby at Hotel Café in Hollywood, CA. August 31, 2007

“Can I squeeze by?” a mysterious voice kindly asked me as it weaved through the crowd inside The Hotel Café on Friday night. Moments later, I realized that this voice belonged to Marie’ Digby, the “YouTube Phenom” (thanks, Carson Daly) whose popularity has exploded since her cover of Rihanna’s “Umbrella” has been played on the radio and on the MTV’s Season 3 Premiere of “The Hills” (coincidentally, my favorite TV show). In today’s world of user-generated videos and downloadable tunes that flood an already crowded music scene, it is rare to discover an artist who has separated herself from the crowd through these mediums. Digby, whose videos are approaching 2.5 million views combined on YouTube (and is currently the #26 “Most Subscribed Artist (All Time)”), proved through performances of her original material on Friday night that she is much more than a “cover artist.” Now signed to Hollywood Records, Marie’ packed The Hotel Café to capacity and performed in front of an appreciative audience that collectively appreciated being a part of her continued ascent in the music industry.


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MAE: The Roxy, Hollywood, CA 8.29.07

Being in the home stretch of my tenure at Billboard, it was a pleasure to take time to review one of my favorite bands, MAE. 


I will admit that I had mixed expectations about this show.  As a big fan of MAE and their unique brand of indie alternative rock since their first album (the 2003 release Destination: Beautiful) I was not as impressed with newer material off their latest release.  Their major label debut with Capitol, Singularity, had the band experimenting with “harder” songs.   This was a departure from their early lighter, piano driven tracks.

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August 28, 2007

Joss Stone with Raphael Saadiq at The Greek Theatre in Los Angeles, CA. August 27, 2007.

The first time I saw Joss Stone, I thought she looked and sounded like the naughty (I think that is the first time I've ever said that word) version of Kelly Clarkson. Since making that first impression on me years ago, I came to realize that despite her age and absolutely stunning physical appearance (Joss, "you're hot, dude..." Words of wisdom courtesy of Jen from The Real World: Denver), Joss Stone is much more of an R&B/Soul artist than a pop music princess, to the point that I'd almost call her the anti-teeny bopper. While many males relish in bashing my music taste that is most easily defined as "music your little sister would like," not a single person had anything negative to say about me attending the 20 year old's show on Monday night. On a night where I finally discovered how to use the brightness settings on my enV correctly and took by far the hottest pictures (HOT!!) I have taken all summer, I became another of the many who kept professing to me, "Joss Stone is legit...and she's really hot."


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August 27, 2007

You, Me, & Iowa: Safari Sam's, Hollywood, CA 8.24.07

Over the course of the summer writing for the LG Billboard Mobile Beat, I was reminded of how vast the music scene is in Los Angeles.  Yet, I had not taken the chance to fully explore yet. Enter You, Me, & Iowa.


Discovered from my other job moderating for interactive text and music video request show Havoc on the 101, You, Me, & Iowa’s video for “The Good, The Bad, and The Beautiful” quickly became popular, being a regularly requested vide on the show and garnering new fans around the country.  When I heard they were performing at Safari Sam’s, I had to jump at the chance.

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August 26, 2007

Josh Groban at the Honda Center in Anaheim, CA. August 25, 2007

After being told that I was set to cover the Josh Groban Awake tour on Saturday night, I couldn't wait. I told one of our bosses that I wouldn't miss the show for the world. I drove down to "The OC" (omg, hi Ryan and Marissa! Love your Dior sunglasses! And Ryan, your Hanes tank top is nice as well...), only to discover that neither ticket, nor press pass were awaiting me at the venue. While I did finagle my way into the press parking lot free of charge (I am getting way too good at bending the truth), somewhere along the joys of an email chain, I got lost in the shuffle. I was no longer "Dave Chung - Billboard blogger," I was just some guy who liked driving to arenas on a Saturday night. Regardless of disappointment and illness (so many boogies...), I knew I had to live up to my word and get in.


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August 22, 2007

Hot In Hollywood Charity Benefit Event with all your favorite TV stars, 8/18/07

A few weeks ago I got bored at work and started to lurk the Internet for any events coming up that my friends and I could perhaps attend. I ran across a website for "Hot In Hollywood," a party at the Henry Fonda Theater in Hollywood benefiting Aids research. It looked like a fun time and all the proceeds from the tickets and whatnot would go to the Aids Healthcare Foundation (AHF) and Alegria, a Salvation Army Aids/HIV housing facility. After seeing the list of celebrity performers, I knew I needed to attend. So I bought tickets for myself and two of my friends and was completely excited in anticipation about it.

Then it hit me…. I could only say I'm Frances from Billboard for like another month! I should at least try and organize myself a press pass so that I could perhaps cover the party for the blog. So I shot a few emails around before finally getting in touch with a lady who could get me press access. She asked me to call her and I did, we spoke and I explained what I did and whatnot when she popped the question "So, why did you want to come to this event anyways?" There was a pause; I had a real reason but it was kind of… well, not professional. I didn't want to lie though, so I figured I may as well tell her the truth. "Okay… truthfully… I just really want to meet Zachary Quinto and the rest of the cast of Heroes that's going to be there." I went on and fangirled like I was 12 years old over my favorite TV show and when I eventually shut up, I was pretty sure the answer was going to be a resounding "NO." But it wasn't. She was laughing; "You're funny! I like you!" and not only was I put on the list, but my two friends were too. See guys, honesty really IS the best policy.


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August 19, 2007

DJ Eric Coleman / The Airborne Toxic Effect / The Aggrolites / Vilma Diaz at the Sunset Junction Festival (Day 2) in Los Angeles, CA. August 19, 2007.

Day two of the Sunset Junction Street Festival gave attendees the opportunity to take in a variety of different music in a very short span of time. From the DJ Eric Coleman spinning music from numerous genres, to The Airborne Toxic Effect playing their fast-paced punk rock, to The Aggrolites playing their brand of "dirty reggae" in front of a dedicated crowd of fans, to being able to catch Vilma Diaz and y La Sonora starting their own dance party with their energetic cumbia music, today was the concert Hometown Buffet of the summer, without the soft serve ice cream and consequently, the nighttime gas (so far). It was a feel good day of music and the sunny skies were perfect for getting some great pictures of the artists playing today. While I'm normally and admittedly pretty long-winded, I'll let the pictures tell the majority of the story today.


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Breakestra/Sy Smith/Blonde Redhead/Deniece Williams at the Sunset Junction Street Festival (Day 1), Los Angeles, CA. August 18, 2007

The annual Sunset Junction Street Festival kicked off on Saturday on a very hot day in the LA area. With three stages that feature different artists from different genres all day and night long, the two day event showcases local acts in addition to headlining acts that close out each respective stage. The event is similar the annual "Carnaval" held in the Mission District in NorCal, but packs people in such close proximity to one another that it reminded me of a one million person rave, the "Love Parade," that I attended in Berlin last summer. Part carnival, part concert, and part street festival, the Sunset Junction Street Festival was a different outdoor experience in the LA music scene and for me, Saturday night's performances were all about the funk.


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August 18, 2007

Overnight Lows in Hollywood, CA - August 17, 2007

Catapulting off the band's momentum stemming from its recent radio play on LA-area rock station giant KROQ, Overnight Lows performed a high energy set in front of an enthusiastic SoCal audience on Friday night at the famed Knitting Factory. Underneath the familiar multicolored lights of the venue, the band's brand of uptempo, punk-sprinkled pop-rock was as energetic as it was contagious throughout the night. Boasting one of the most attractive female vocalists in rock music today in lead singer Jules Larson, Overnight Lows, whose music has been featured on numerous MTV programs, put together a night of consistently higher reaching highs for an audience that was reaching for more. By the end of the night, as the band continues to gain popularity throughout Southern California and beyond through radio play and their live performances, I couldn't help but think that I was witnessing the continued rise of something much bigger for Overnight Lows.


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August 17, 2007

Common: Boulevard3, Hollywood, CA 8.15.07

It’s not a surprise anymore to turn on the TV or radio and hear the terms “hip-hop” or “rap” represented by bling, wearing, rock star partying, crunk, shawty snappin, chopped and screwed rappers wearing grills, with cookie cutter beats and repetitive hooks chanting “Ay, Bay, Bay” over and over again. It’s a disappointment that turned the young hip-hop fan in me away from the genre in the last decade.  Sure the songs are catchy and fun to dance too, but hip-hop’s roots were all about bringing messages of social injustice and the struggle of the everyday man to the public in a unique voice.

As far as the mainstream goes, that spirit lives on in a handful of artists like The Roots, Talib Kweli, Mos Def, and Common.  The latter, I got to experience first hand last night.


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August 13, 2007

Tim McGraw and Faith Hill in Anaheim, CA. August 11, 2007

The last time many of us saw Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, it was on YouTube. Whether it was Faith Hill reprimanding a fan, "Somebody needs to teach you some class, my friend! You don't go grabbin' somebody else's…somebody's husband's balls, you understand me? That's very disrespectful!" or Tim McGraw pointing to a fan saying, "Give me my ring back! No, give me my ring back!" – The Soul2Soul 2007 tour has had some unusual moments. I never would have expected Tim and Faith to fill the Internet blogosphere when I bought two nosebleed seats (not just the 300 level, the 400 level, which puts you in the vicinity of the Tower of Babel) at $100 a ticket (face value, seriously?) months ago for the tour's finale on Saturday night at the Honda Center. Safely tucked away in the balcony, I was confident that the few hundred feet of space between me and the stars would be enough to overpower my genitalia and jewelry related envy. I was wrong (kidding).


All the press and hoopla aside, the finale to a tour featuring two of country music's biggest stars and possibly the most successful couple in music (Don't go there, J. Lo and Marc Anthony) was the longest concert I've ever attended, as the concert ended well after midnight, but it was also a tribute to country music superstardom for both Hill and McGraw. 

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August 09, 2007

Arden Kaywin at Jimmy's Acoustic Courtyard in Hollywood, CA, August 7th, 2007

Playing in front of a laid back audience that included talented actors Topher Grace (Venom was in the building!) and Cedric the Entertainer, along with official Billboard/LG Mobile Beat Hobbit Dave Chung, Arden Kaywin performed on Tuesday night at Jimmy's Acoustic Courtyard. As this was my first time at the indoor/outdoor venue, I was initially underwhelmed by the exterior appearance of the outdoor venue, which from the wrong side looked like it could double as a beach shower pit/public urinal. However, upon entering the hidden side entrance, Jimmy's Acoustic Courtyard - with its unexpected comfortable couches, bar, horseshoe booths, and open air socializing area for people more hip than I - instantly became one of my favorite small venues in the Los Angeles area. Kaywin, whose single "Me With Me" was nominated as the 2006 Pop Song of the Year by the Independent Music Awards, put on an incredible vocal performance for her dedicated fans and won over some new ones in the process. While her name might not initially seem the most memorable, her passionate vocals, unique blend of musical styles, lyricism, and impressive range make her an artist that is very hard to forget.


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August 08, 2007

Boys Night Out: El Rey Theatre, Hollywood, CA 8.7.07


It seemed odd to see such a band of veterans like Boys Night Out as direct support on a tour.  Most of the other bands were probably still jamming in their garage when Boys Night Out released their 2003 debut Make Yourself Sick

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August 05, 2007

Clay Aiken, The Greek Theatre in Los Angeles, August 4th, 2007

Part concert, part comedy show, Clay Aiken and a live orchestra performed in front of a few thousand of his most dedicated fans on Saturday night. Before the show, I had spoken with fans of the American Idol runner up, or Claymaniacs, who told me that an Aiken concert is as much about his interaction with the audience as it is about his trademark big vocals. I was a little skeptical about how this would turn out because I appreciate rapid fire performances in live concerts. However, many an Aiken concert veteran assured me that I was in for a great night on this stop of The Soft Rock & A Hard Place Tour. Thankfully, Aiken delivered. In an entertaining two hour set, Aiken and his background vocalists Angela Fisher and Quiana Parler put together an upbeat night (somehow, in a set filled with ballads) that was just as filled with laughter (legitimate “LOL,” “LMAO,” “ROFL” laughter) from the audience as it was with strong performances coming from the performers on stage.


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August 03, 2007

Reel Big Fish: The Wiltern, Los Angeles, CA 8.2.07

Much like punk (real, original, good punk. Not the pop variety that has gained popularity in the last decade), ska has fallen to the background of the musical crowd.  There are few bands that have stuck around still making great ska.  Reel Big Fish are definitely one of the front runners of that group.  Known to most for their breakout 1997 hit “Sell Out” and great ska covers such as “Take On Me” and “Hungry Like A Wolf”, Reel Big Fish packed The Wiltern for what would be a huge party.


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August 02, 2007

Rooney, Everybody Else, Big City Rock @ The Glasshouse 7/29, Pomona, CA

The day after Projekt Revolution, I was beat… but that didn't stop me from seeing my boys in Rooney perform at the Glasshouse in Pomona! It did however stop me from going to work the day after that, because you know… I like sleeping. Anyways, the boys in Rooney brought along two other native Los Angeles bands Big City Rock and Everybody Else along for the ride and thanks to some of my show buddies who saved me a spot in line, I was right up front for all the action.


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August 01, 2007

Projekt Revolution @ Hyundai Pavilion 7/28, Devore, CA

Projekt Revolution… the one show I totally wanted to go to this Summer but totally couldn’t afford. Thankfully, it helps when Billboard is on your side. We got to the Hyundai Pavilion just in time for Placebo, but due to a mix up at the box office not having my press pass and just a ticket, I had to wait outside to see if it would get sorted out. The second that I heard HIM’s cover of “Wicked Game” though, I bolted into the venue so I wouldn’t miss their set. Sure, I didn’t have a press pass but who cares! I was there! Just pretend you can see all the bands in the photos ;)


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July 31, 2007

Bob Weir & RatDog / Keller Williams / Los Angeles 7/28/07

I pulled into Griffith Park, home of the Greek Theatre, at 2:30 Saturday afternoon. The temperature was in the high 90s and the sky was clear. Another scorching day at the Greek. I had not been to the Greek Theatre since last year when Bob Weir & RatDog shared the stage with the String Cheese Incident. It was good to be back.


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July 30, 2007

Carrie Underwood, Dixon Fairgrounds in Dixon, CA. July 28, 2007

800 miles round trip. Three full tanks of gas. Two half-days spent in the car. $140 non-budgeted dollars for two tickets. All for one chance to take the most exciting picture of my life, for one person, Carrie Underwood. Three months of anticipation were fulfilled through an incredible experience and opportunity to not only see, but personally meet one of the top artists in music today. On a night where the Dixon Fairgrounds were illuminated by a breathtaking full moon, Underwood and her band put together an unbelievable set that featured the first ever live performance of her new single "So Small," and exceeded any and all of my expectations.


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July 27, 2007

Brian Grosz at The Cat Club in West Hollywood, CA. July 24, 2007

In preparation for Brian Grosz show on Tuesday night in West Hollywood, I checked out his website so that I could familiarize myself with his music and style. An excerpt from Grosz's bio read, "It's always darkest before dawn: the narcotic warmth is turning cold, the hangover is knocking on the front door and the miserable tendrils of reality begin gripping tightly beneath your skin...Reveling in the imperfections of passion, GROSZ brings us murder-suicide ballads, crippled lullabies and endlessly dark hallways filled with the lingering, metallic scent of ill-fated liasons [sic]." Apparently, that is Brian Grosz.


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July 25, 2007

Interview with American Idols! Jordin Sparks, Melinda Doolittle, Phil Stacey, Sanjaya Malakar and Chris Sligh

On Sunday, before attending the American Idols Live! show (which you could read my review for here, in case you missed it), the kind people at Billboard were able to get me into the press hour where I'd be able to interview some of the contestants from season six. Me being absolutely freaked out was an understatement. Sure, I had interviewed people before... but that was mainly for the high school newspaper back in the day. I also interviewed a band once, but they were local and it was via email. Really, the Idol Press Hour was going to be my first official big press thing and I was so scared. It didn't help that the day had started out bad - I woke up late, my hair refused to not frizz, I spilled a drink on my favorite jeans and even when I eventually got to the Honda Center (mind you I sped there because I thought I was late) I had a massive freak out thinking I had lost my voice recorder (I even called my mom almost in tears!).

I was under the assumption that this is how press hour worked: a ton of journalists crammed in a room where they unleashed all 10 idols on us at which point we'd have to fight to the death for interviews. Boy, was I wrong. We got five pre-selected Idols one-on-one for about five minutes each. Oh, and there was only three of us. Wait, what? You mean I'm actually going to have to sit across from them and TALK to them? I'm sorry, but they're IDOLS and I'm just a kid who won a contest and gets to run around and do awesome things for Billboard.

Continue reading "Interview with American Idols! Jordin Sparks, Melinda Doolittle, Phil Stacey, Sanjaya Malakar and Chris Sligh" »

July 24, 2007

American Idols Live! @ The Honda Center, Anaheim, CA 7/22/07

American Idol – taking over people’s lives since 2002. Yes, as many of my friends know, I am a die-hard American Idol fan. I’ve gone to studio tapings, dress rehearsals, season five’s finale and every tour except season two’s (I was bitter about Clay Aiken coming in second). After the craziness that was season five of American Idol, I vowed to myself that when season six rolled around that I would not allow myself to get as sucked in as I did that year (Elliott Yamin, aka: the best American Idol contestant EVER, got voted off on my 19th birthday and I cried… no really, I did). So when season six finally rolled around in the beginning of the year, I sat back and didn’t allow myself to get too attached to any of the contestants. What I found was I was able to judge them on a level of non-biasedness rather than “You did good, but you’re not my favorite, so I hate you and I hope you get voted off.” Sure, I still had favorites, but I didn’t get attached so it wasn’t as heart wrenching to see them go as it had been in the past. So when I covered the show, for the first time I wasn’t there for just one contestant, I was there for all of them.

By the way, before the jump cut, I just wanted to say I got a chance to sit down and chat with five of the season six Idols: Jordin Sparks, Melinda Doolittle, Sanjaya Malakar, Phil Stacey and Chris Sligh. I’ll be transcribing the recordings tomorrow and have the interviews up in another blog no later than tomorrow night. So watch out for them Idol fans!


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Damon Castillo Band, Hollywood, CA, July 21, 2007

In front of a very lively standing room audience at Hotel Cafe' in Hollywood late Saturday night, Damon Castillo Band took their place on stage. The band was about to embark on a high energy, eclectic nine song set to coincide with the release of the band's live CD that night. I finagled my way into one of the venue's front row seats so that I could focus on the band and not be so concerned with how I fit in with "hipster" crowd in attendance. With all the side conversations, pervasive schmoozing, and one loser walking carrying a notebook (me) surrounding the stage area, I wondered how any band was going to capture everyone's much divided attention that night.


Thankfully, Damon Castillo Band had the formula to turn a crowd full of random conversation into a captive audience that couldn't take their eyes and ears away from the stage. In all, Saturday night was a funk and rock inspired return to very real music. All of us in attendance were given an intimate look at a band putting on an unreal on-stage jam session. After the show, I told the band that this might have felt like the fastest hour of my life, and without exaggeration, it probably was.   

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July 21, 2007

The Fray, Los Angeles, July 19, 2007

I woke up to find an email from Billboard this Thursday asking if I would be able to cover The Fray’s concert that same night. Even better, this would be my first assignment where I would get to hang out in “the pit,” putting me nearly within arm’s reach of the bands playing that night. In my groggy morning state, I couldn’t have thought of a better way to start my day. I managed to arrange for one of my favorite singers, Alissa Moreno, whose show I had covered just a week ago, to be my concert wingwoman for a night where The Fray’s music could not have been a better fit for the concert’s setting. Needless to say, this would end up being a night that I would not soon forget.


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July 20, 2007

The Working Title: the Knitting Factory, Hollywood, CA 7.18.07

Yes, I am taking the opportunity to review not one, but TWO bands from Wednesday night’s show at the Knitting Factory!  Headliners, The Working Title brought their great alternative rock sound from South Carolina back to Southern California for their first show back in over a year.


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July 19, 2007

Days Away: The Knitting Factory, Hollywood, CA 7.18.07

Being dropped by your label may not be the best way to start a year, but Pennsylvania band Days Away have shown that the music they make is not affected by who releases it. 


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Linkin Park, Ritual, Hollywood, CA. July 17, 2007

I had the unexpected privilege of receiving a last minute invitation to another grand opening (I believe there's actually been a couple) for the bar/club Ritual in Hollywood on Tuesday night. While I struggled to fit in with the red carpet atmosphere - all the beautiful, tall people with their Blackberrys and flashy attire (was this a concert or a sweaty Calvin Klein ad?) - I couldn't believe that I was actually going to see my favorite "I'm driving and singing with my angry face" rap-rock group-Linkin Park!


Incredibly, there would end up being only about 500 people in the audience for what was definitely a club event (not my scene at all) that also served as a warmup for LP's upcoming summer tour. As I made my way down the red carpet, I briefly toyed with the idea of stripping naked and doing the "Running Man" (because that's clearly what people do on the red carpet) in an effort to garner myself some media exposure (pun intended). I hoped that someone would throw me a bone and mistake me for William Hung, or even "Jin tha MC," but it was not to be.


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July 18, 2007

Rooney's CD Release Show feat. Coconut Records & Hello Stranger @ The Roxy 7/16/07

This blog will not only serve as a review of last night's Rooney CD release show, but also of a story of a 14 year old girl trapped inside a 20 year old's body who had the absolute time of her life last night. So apologies in advance if this seems like a journal entry intertwined with a show review. See, let me put this into perspective before I begin the review. I still remember the day I picked up Rooney's self titled CD at a little music store somewhere in Silverlake back in 2003. Scanning the used CD section (yes, I'm a cheap-o), I came upon Rooney's self titled album and my first thought was "I think this is Jason Schwartzman's little brother's band...." and before I go on, it's crucial for me to say this but I have had the biggest most disgusting school girl crush on Jason Schwartzman since I was 14 and he drummed in Phantom Planet and starred in various movies. Upon further inspection of the Rooney CD is was quite clear, it was Michael Moscovitz's band. And yes, I did just call Robert Schwartzman by the name Michael Moscotvitz, because you can ask most any girl my age to scan their tween years and Robert's character in the Princess Diaries movie was pretty much our dream boy for a long while. Yes, I realize by calling Robert that I am forever damned to Rooney hell. Moving on...

So when it was announced that Coconut Records (aka: Jason Schwartzman's music project) was opening for Rooney, I just about had the biggest freak out of all time and I knew that this would probably be the one show of the whole year that I would NOT want to miss in order to make that fangirl inside of me happy.


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July 16, 2007

Kyler England & Alissa Moreno, Los Angeles, July 14, 2007

Without a Billboard-sponsored assignment on the calendar for the second consecutive week, I made arrangements to check out Kyler England and Alissa Moreno on a Saturday night. Having listened to both artists' music through their MySpace pages, iTunes, personal sites, and demos provided to me, I was already a big fan of both.  While Kyler and Alissa were different in style, neither was likely to start waving bandanas and krumping all over the stage to get me hyped. I went into tonight's show needing a bit of a boost, especially after inadvertently falling asleep on the beach earlier in the day, successfully sponging UV rays out of the atmosphere and earning myself a tan Hellboy would have been jealous of.  Thankfully, by the end of the night, I would witness one of my favorite shows I have attended in 23 years of life.

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July 12, 2007

Incubus: The Greek Theatre, Los Angeles, CA 7.11.07

Last night at the Greek Theatre, the thought finally set in that this was such a special opportunity given from Billboard and how lucky I am to be here. 

It was Incubus’ second night in a row at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles and the band put on an amazing, dare I say stellar performance.


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July 11, 2007

Motion City Soundtrack: The Roxy, West Hollywood, CA 7.10.07

On this night, Motion City Soundtrack showed that they were not only on fire, but more than ready to bust a move.



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