Monday, June 29, 2009

Playgroup, Then and Now

This picture of Playgroup was taken June 28th, 2006.
L to R: Hannah L, Laura, Nina, Corinne, Emma
(this was how Corinne was at every play group)

This one was taken June 26, 2009.
L to R: Hannah W, Corinne, Laura, Emma, Nina, Hannah L, Kayla

Can't believe how big they've gotten, and how far Corinne has come.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Father's Day, a Tale in Pictures

breakfast in bed
strawberry picking
hot dogs

Saturday, June 6, 2009

I Might Be Getting Too Old for This

Pete and I just finished what I am calling the "Pete and Andrea's We-May-Be-Parents-But-We're-Not-Dead-Yet Tour". It consisted of three concerts in 6 weeks: Crystal Method, Prodigy, and Nine Inch Nails with Jane's Addiction. These bands are all in our top 10 and we couldn't possibly choose between them, so we decided to throw caution (and money) to the wind and see them all. We arranged for Uncle Jim and Aunt Lisa to babysit on the three Wednesday nights and we eagerly anticipated this rare opportunity to get back to our roots, so to speak, and rock out like we're 25 and childless again.

First up was Crystal Method, playing at the House of Blues in Boston. Pete and I are huge fans and we were very excited for this small venue. Crystal Method is described on Wikipedia as being an electronic music duo. You have heard their music, you just don't know it. Their songs have been used in a a bunch of TV shows and car commercials. "Busy Child" is probably their most recognizable hit. We actually had their song "Keep Hope Alive" play at our wedding when the wedding party was introduced at the reception. I associate their music with our cross country trips, just driving on the open road, red rocks and big sky all around, and you can't help but feel glad to be alive. Anyway, I must say that it is a little bit of a weird dynamic to see Crystal Method live, given that they are not really a band per say, so much as two guys playing the keyboards. Their music is a combination of synthesizers and sampling. In a live show this translates to two guys standing on a stage pushing buttons. It's probably the first show I've seen where having the visual aspect actually kind of took away from the experience, rather than enhance it. The music is so full of energy. It's all heavy base that you can feel in your chest and adrenaline pumping sound effects and it's all so wonderfully loud. With closed eyes you can really get lost in the music. But then you open your eyes and there's just these two middle-aged guys standing there, barely moving. At several points in the show they actually had their back to the audience for long stretches of time and were using a computer. Now I know that they were doing their sampling thing, but for all we knew they could have been Face Booking. And several times one or both of them would stop to take a drink, and yet the music just kept on going without a change. It was kind of the instrumental equivalent of lip synching. Don't get me wrong, I realize that it is an art form to be able to sample all that other stuff and create new music, and they do an amazing job at it. I'm just saying that what you saw didn't quite match what you heard, and the effect was just a little disappointing. The other funny thing was that at one point one of them (Kenny or Scott, I'm not really sure who's who) decided to "get down with it" and lifted up the keyboard and played it like an air guitar. He then accidentally knocked it off the stage, and for the next 15 minutes the roadies frantically tried to fix it and ultimately replace it, all the while the music sounding no different without it. He got really annoyed and appeared to be blaming the roadies. They ended the show shortly after that and didn't even do an encore, which we thought was kind of lame.
(Crystal Method, looking considerably more animated than they did at the show!)

Next up was Prodigy, which took place at the same club. This time Pete and I got smart and didn't get there right when the doors opened at seven, like we did for Crystal Method (note to self: if the doors open before your preschooler is even in bed, chances are the headline act is not really starting at that time, and to think so just shows how terribly un-hip and out of touch you are with the cool people).

Prodigy is also electronic based, although they are much more "band-like" than Crystal Method, and have a more hardcore/ punk/ industrial/ rave kind of sound. The two singing guys, Keith Flint and Maxim Reality, are truly a couple of freaks (and I mean that in the most affectionate of ways), and they never stopped moving, screaming, and arm flailing (kind of like Lily). It was a really good show. Pete and I pushed our way onto the floor even though we had seats; the shows are just so much better when you're right in the middle of the insanity. But it did make me painfully aware of how, well, not young I am. Here I am, 37 years old, jumping up and down and getting stepped on, shoved, fondled and just generally having my personal space invaded by a bunch of punk-ass kids while screaming along with a band who's best known song is called "Smack My Bitch Up". There were glow sticks a-flying and people slam dancing (is that even what they call it anymore?) and a couple chicks crowd surfing and all I could think of was, "please be careful of my lactating boobies! I need to be able to go home and feed my precious angel!" It was just striking to me how different my maternal lifestyle is from this one. Eventually I had to step out of the pit and get some air and get away from all the sweaty, stinky bodies pressed up against me (ewww). If only you could have a little bubble of, say, 6 inches of air conditioned personal space with piped in fresh air to wear around you, then it would be OK. Like a Disney character suit or something. So I lamed out, but I did make it through most of the show. Pete, on the other hand, took full advantage of my leaving to push his way right up the the front for the last two songs (talk about opposite lifestyles. This is a man who manages 27 or so people and is considered to be a bit of a curmudgeon (I love that word) among his employees.)

(Super Freak Keith Flint of The Prodigy)

This video really gives a sense of the chaos that is a Prodigy concert:

Last up was Nine Inch Nails and Jane's Addiction. This one was at a real concert amphitheater, as opposed to a club. We ended up going with my cousin Shaun, which is really random because he lives in San Diego. He happened to be in the area for training and when he heard we were going, he got himself a ticket, too. The totally unfair thing was that we'd bought our tickets months ago and got crappy seats. He bought his the day of the show and was in, like, the third row. Not kidding. Dave Navarro (guitar player for Jane's) was practically sweating on the him. Shaun's seats were so good that he used up all of his phone's power taking dozens of photos. Because of this, his phone died and we spent an hour trying to find him after the show. We were planning on leaving without him, assuming that his incredible Cali-luck and close proximity to the bands had gotten him backstage (and even closer to Trent, Perry and Dave). Damn you Shaun!

So NIN was a little disappointing in that they only played 4 or 5 songs that I recognized. We're not die-hard fans, but we do own several of their albums, including what I thought was the most recent one, so I don't know where they pulled all these obscure songs from, or why. Jane's more than made up for it, though. They could not have been better. They were still very tight as a band, had a ton of energy, sounded great, and played all their hits. They opened with our favorite song, "3 Days", and I was worried that after that the rest would be anticlimactic, but the whole show was amazing. The highlight for me was the first encore, which was "Summer Time Rolls". It's a song that has a lot of personal sentiment for Pete and I. For our wedding reception we had picked out seven favorite, meaningful songs to be played throughout the night. Whenever one of those songs played, we stopped what we were doing long enough to look around and take it all in and enjoy the moment (knowing that the whole evening would fly by in a blur). "Summer Time Rolls" was one of those songs. It was very timely, the concert being 5 days before our seventh wedding anniversary. It was the perfect end to the perfect music trifecta.

(Dave Navarro is the bomb! This picture was taken by Shaun,
from his amazing seat.
Lucky bastard. No photos from our seats,
as Dave Navarro would be an itty-bitty ant.)
  • I was going to end this post here, but I felt like something was missing, like I hadn't quite captured what these shows meant to me or how they felt. I realized what I didn't mention, what was missing... the best part, really, which was the time spent reconnecting with my honey. Life gets so busy with kids and work and errands and house projects, and while you don't necessarily forget about why you fell in love with this person, you do maybe get a little bit distracted from it. It was nice to go out and do the things we did when it was just about the two of us. When we were allowed to be selfish and self indulgent. I'm proud of us for taking this time for us, and for going out and not acting our ages. Much like those seven songs at our wedding, it made me stop and look around and appreciate it all. I am still madly in love with the man that I married. We are still connected after seven years. We still share the same sense of humor, taste in music, and appreciation for the absurd and ironic. We are still best friends, first and foremost. We've still got it, Baby. Happy Anniversary.