Oz: My First Music Festival

Australia’s hot new music is broadcasted on Triple J radio station, which is filled with different sounds—incredible tunes—that I never heard until I moved here. I am so fortunate that I was able to attend my first music festival partly sponsored by Triple J and see some of my new discoveries in the land down under.

Getting to Groovin’ the Moo was not an easy process. I was supposed to attend with an acquaintance I met, and we even paid for an Airbnb. Unfortunately, he cancelled, I lost my accommodation money, and I was stuck with two tickets. However, I very quickly sorted the situation out because my roommate, Seirra, was more than happy to purchase the ticket and we bought bus vouchers, which were charted by Groovin’ the Moo. Once we got there, all the issues I had melted away and I experienced one of the best and longest days of my life.

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In front of the Cattleyard/Triple J stages

Upon arrival, all I could say was “Wow,” as I saw the main stage and another area covered in a giant tent which reminded me of the circus appear before my eager eyes. There were four stages at Groovin’ the Moo (Cattleyard/Triple J, Moolin Rouge (the circus-like structure), Mootown and Silent Disco), the Cattleyard/Triple J stages being the largest. These stages were on one huge, main platform, only being separated by a divider so that acts can perform one after another on alternate sides, which worked out beautifully.

Sierra’s and my day began with some incredible food truck munchies: I bought a vegan doughnut and Sierra got some tasty fries. I did not expect there to be a vast array of food trucks at the festival, and it really pleased me when I realized I would not be eating overpriced, run-of-the-mill venue food.

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After our delicious treats, we headed to Moolin Rouge stage to await our first favorite Performer, Amy Shark. Amy shot to fame with her song “Adore You,” which rose to the number two spot on he Triple J Hottest 100 Chart in 2016. Luckily, we arrived at the tent at the right time, because we were front row for her performance! She was so talented and sounded completely the same in person as she did on recording.

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Amy Shark

Our luck grew when we were able to meet her and receive her autograph at the artist signing table. She told me she liked my shirt and was such a pleasant person to meet. She is heading to America soon for a small tour and I am so excited for her!

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Amy Shark and I

After this meeting, Sierra and I moved over to the main stage almost three hours before our next two favorite artists, Tash Sultana and Milky Chance. We were again extremely lucky that we arrived when we did, because after the fist performer we saw at the stage, the crowds did not dwindle and steadily grew. Before we knew it, we were in the second row of a wild mosh pit. If I have any advice for people attending general admission shows, it is to not enter the main crowd if you cannot handle being pushed, shoved and touched by random people. It is not fun. The only reason I survived the hours of waiting was due to the fact that two people in front of Sierra left the crowd before it got too packed and I shoved her onto the barricade. That’s right—we found ourselves front row again for our two favorite performers!

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Tash Sultana

 

The hours of standing and alternately watching people on the stage in front of us and musicians on the other side of the stage via giant screen was worth it. After what seemed like forever, we were enveloped by the sweet music of Tash Sultana. Tash is a singer, songwriter and looping artist from Melbourne. A looper is a tool that allows one to record herself singing or playing an instrument multiple times and layer the recordings together. Man, does this girl know how to jam! She does not even need to sing; I could listen to her on the looper working her magic all day long. When she performs, it’s like all my worries fade away and it is just me captivated by her beautiful music. Tash is by far one of my favorite musicians I have ever seen live, and that says a lot because I have seen a fair share of artists.

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Milky Chance

Luckily, our final favorite performer played on the same stage as Tash one act later. Milky Chance is a German electronic/alternative/folk group whose single “Stolen Dance” lead the men to the number one spot on music charts in several countries in 2013.  Seeing Milky Chance in person is even better than hearing the band’s recorded music. The lead singer’s on-stage presence was so much more animated than any video I had seen of him. I also did not expect his adorable German accent to draw me in so much. Between Tash and Milky, I was in music heaven.

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The Wombats

The festival ended with Sierra and I shoving our way out of the mosh pit to find some food. After we finally sat down in the barely lit grass, we returned to the Triple J stage to watch The Wombats, another notable and pretty famous band, and back to Moolin Rouge, to see Dillon Francis, an American DJ.

Sierra and I got back to Perth city around 12:30 at night and had probably the best idea that day, which was to take an Uber home. I cannot believe I experienced my first music festival and that the experience was as incredible as it was. This without a doubt will be one of my favorite shows I have ever witnessed.

Oz: Purpose World Tour

Monday, March 6 may not see like that important of a date to most, but I had been looking forward to it for months. It is the day I saw Justin Bieber on his Purpose World Tour at NIB Stadium in Perth, Australia.

As soon as I found out he would be in Perth when I was, I knew I was getting tickets. The only uncertainty I had was if I would be going alone or not. Luckily, Jordan is a huge fan, and Brian wanted to see the special guest, DJ Martin Garrix, so I had two friends to share the experience with.

The opening act, Sheppard, is an indie pop band formed in 2009. The leads are both super talented and I thought to myself I would have to check them out. Then, they played their last song, “Geronimo,” and I realized I had heard it before. I became super excited I got to see a fairly popular band and hear a song I already knew.

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Sheppard

 

The next act was Martin Garrix, who I almost saw in Ibiza. He played an hour long set, weaving in and out of remixed songs and beats set to vivid graphics and tricked-out light and fire effects. He ended with his new song “In the Name of Love.” I enjoyed his music, but one can only listen to a DJ for so long. I was ready for The Biebs.

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Martin Garrix

The lights went off. The screen came on. A video came on the screens with Justin’s silhouette teasing the audience. About a minute later, the one, the only Justin Bieber rose from the stage in a clear box, which we wrote “Mark my words” on, which was his opening song. This was it. He was finally here. Someone I have supported for about ten years was right in front of me.

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Justin Bieber

To make it short, his whole performance was absolutely marvelous. This was my seventh time seeing him, and I can confidently say this was his best performance yet. For a while, he was going through a rough patch in life, and seemed like he was just moving through the motions of touring. However, this time around, he was joking, smiling and talking to us with meaning. I had never been more proud of him and thankful to be in his presence.

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My favorite photo from the show

On top of the spectacular show, my seats were super close to the stage, about 25 yards away from him, so that was just fantastic. He wore Adidas soccer pants the whole time and only changed his top three times, which is a smaller amount than usual. He thanked Australia for having him back, and I thanked him for being there.

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Jordan, Brian and I had such a great time. I think Brian even turned into a bit of a Bieber fan, even though he doesn’t want to admit it. I can’t wait to see Justin back in the states!

 

Fiji: 50 Shades Darker

Prior to dinner, our family suggested that we watch a movie, and Jordan took a liking to the idea. Long story short, Jordan and I decided that we would see Fifty Shades Darker, which was premiering in Fiji (and ahead of the U.S.).IMG_0708.JPG

It turns out this premiere party was a huge celebration: there was 50 Shades décor, people serving mixed drinks and snacks, a raffle, free manicures, a table of desserts and flash tattoos. Not to mention, everyone there was dressed as if she was going to a formal party. Women of all ages wore fancy dresses, slacks and blouses and had their hair and makeup done. I never knew that a movie premier could be this fancy.

Of course, Jordan and I had no idea the party would be so fancy, and we were in the same clothing we wore and got poured on all day. IMG_0709.JPGHowever, that did not stop us from enjoying ourselves. We actually met a woman with a child our age who was super nice. She even gave us masks to wear anIMG_0707.JPGd shared her popcorn with us during the movie.

The room the premiere played in was the largest movie theater I had ever seen, and the screen was ginormous
as well. The whole experience was completely unexpected and absolutely fantastic. Also, 50 Shades Darker was much better than the first! From the free drinks and manicures to making Fijian friends, the night was a total success.

Fall Concert Series: Carrie Underwood

Carrie Underwood has the most effortless voice in the world. You won’t catch me listening to country music very often, but Carrie is an exception to all the laws of the universe. Honestly, she might not even be human; she is more like an angel.

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Before the show

I recall my nine-year-old self watching Carrie on American Idol and rooting for her until she claimed victory, and seeing her in concert not too long after. I yearned to see her again ever since. When I heard she would be touring this year, my friend and I immediately bought tickets for her first-ever show at the “World’s Most Famous Arena,” Madison Square Garden.

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The stage

Upon arrival to MSG, I was mesmerized by the setup of the venue. Carrie’s stage was in the middle of the floor, right where I stood at the 2016 Video Music Awards. The stage was composed of a main circular part in the middle, with two long legs jutting out and stretching out across almost the length of the arena floor and ending in two more circles. There were also two shorter legs reaching out from the opposite direction, which also ended in circular platforms.

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Carrie’s opening acts, Eatson Corbon and the Swon Brothers, were fantastic and really got the crowd going. Before I knew it, it was time for the queen to arrive. The center, circular part of the stage rose, and a few seconds later, there was Carrie, looking like an edgy, rockstar cake topper rising above the audience high in the sky. She started the show with the first song on her album and one of my personal favorites, “Runaway Renegade.” I was in awe and I did not expect to have as large of a reaction to her presence as I did, but the mixture of tears, my shaky voice screaming “OMG SHE’S PERFECT,” and my rapid heartbeat were all there.

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Carrie rising above the crowd

Carrie put on about a two hour show filled with nothing but talent and sincerity. I honestly don’t know how she does it. One minute she was blowing on an electric harmonica, and the next moment she was belting a 16 note lyric. I’m telling you, she’s an angel. A highlight was when she cast pictures of her adorable son and husband on the screen as she beautifully sang “What I Never Knew I Wanted.” Talk about a sweet love story. I also got lost in her powerful voice with throwbacks such as “Before He Cheats” and one of her favorite songs, “Jesus Take the Wheel.”

The night was remarkable. I am so proud of Carrie for being a new mom, being in the business for over ten years, and still giving an unmatchable performance. I also appreciate that Carrie seems to still be a down-to-earth, “normal,” person, despite having a legendary career. The post-concert depression I felt after the show left me no mercy, and I cannot wait for warmer weather so I can blast her in my car as I drive around with my windows down.

Fall Concert Series: Charlie Puth

My boss: “I am going to the Charlie Puth concert, too.”

Me: “OMG, I love him!”

My boss: “So does my thirteen-year-old daughter.”’

That is what pop-music does. Its mainstream and general appeal attracts people of all ages to the artists. I attended Charlie Puth’s We Don’t Talk Tour and fan-girled just as much as the young teenagers and kids that surrounded me. And I have no regrets.

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Charlie Puth at Theatre at Westbury

Honestly, I did not expect to have such an explosive reaction when he came onto stage. But as soon as he did, I was taken over by excitement, my heart pounding and my voice trembling.

However, that is not the only unexpected thing that happened that night. To my disappointment, Charlie only performed four songs. He canceled a show a week prior because he was so sick. I knew he was still very ill during the week, but he had his NYC shows, and I know those are shows artists try not to cancel. So, I came to the concert concerned about his health, surprised he didn’t cancel, but ecstatic I would get to see him.

He started the show with his latest hit “We Don’t Talk Anymore,” and I was in awe that I was hearing the song live. Charlie admitted to us that he was still very sick and would try to push through his set if we helped him out with some singing. That sounded like a fair deal.

Charlie rocked on with his next song, “Some Type of Love,” and he looked so happy. He was owning the stage, banging his head in the air and dancing around his piano on the circular platform. Even with his incredible performance, his facial expressions and his drinking of tea showed that he was struggling.

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After four songs, he sat down and looked defeated. He apologized to us and explained that he just needed a quick break, because he had a fever and he was having a hard time breathing. I didn’t want to believe it, but I knew nothing good would come of this. He came back on stage five minutes later with a look of heartbreak on his face, and told us he had to cancel.

Yes, I was upset I would not get to see his full show, something I had been waiting on for a long time. But Charlie’s honesty with us and yearn to give us his best performance showed how true of an artist he is. For him to go out on stage and break the hearts of hundreds of girls, but with his health in mind, shows that he knows his limits. He is only human, and I am proud of him for taking care of his well-being.

Charlie is without question talented and passionate about his career. He received a standing ovation even with the news he broke to his fans. He promised he would make it up to us and I believe he will. I gained a lot of respect for him that night. Even with only seeing four songs by him, it was a fantastic performance.

Fall Concert Series: Fetty Wap

I still can’t believe Hofstra University hired Fetty Wap to perform for its annual Fall Fest. Fall Fest weekend is a weekend for family, friends and alumni to gather together and celebrate. Hofstra jam-packs Saturday and Sunday with sporting events, tours, talks on special topics, and more for all visitors. The main event is the actual festival, full of carnival games, rides and a lineup of performances by students and professional artists. 

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Organizations on campus work together to make displays for all to enjoy during Fall Fest

This year, the lineup was The Purple Xperience, which is a Prince cover band, The Gin Blossoms, which is a rock band formed in 1987 and the headliner, Fetty Wap. Student dance groups and DJ Spynfo performed between sets to keep the energy alive.

I had the chance to work during Fall Fest, so not only did I get to assist my bosses back stage, I also got a front row pass to the concert. I had always assumed artists relaxed backstage before the show, but they actually stay in green rooms in the sports complex, which is where the presidential debate was held. The artists are then brought to the waiting room on location to do a meet and greet. Finally, they take stage.

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My front row view of Fetty Wap

The day for me was filled with various tasks and watching the performers, which were all great. Let’s jump ahead to Fetty Wap. I actually did not have much expectation for Fetty’s performance, as I had seen him at Z100’s Jingle Ball last year, and he maybe sang half of the words to about three songs. However, he definitely brought his A-game to Hofstra. He and his warm-up crew were energetic and seemed excited to be on stage. Fetty’s music is not something I would be caught dancing to in the shower, but I was overall impressed with the concert.

Fun facts:

  • Fetty drove himself to the stage, but was accompanied by multiple security cars.
  • Fetty does not have a license.
  • Fetty had security on stage, who simply stood there during his performance.
  • Fetty wore a Hofstra basketball jersey during his performance. Thanks for the PR!
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Fetty Wap performing in a Hofstra basketball jersey

This was the best lineup I have ever seen at Hofstra. The school really listened to its students and came through with a great festival. Now the countdown begins for next year!

Fall Concert Series: Alessia Cara

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The outside of Orpheum Theatre

I drove four hours through a rainy night to see a pop concert, and it was well worth it.

I wanted to see Alessia Cara in concert as soon as I heard her song, “Here.” I totally related to her experience in the song: being at a party, but wishing she were somewhere else spending quality time with friends. I also fell in love with her song, “Wild Things,” which I used in my short video from Costa Rica. When I saw that she was embarking on her own tour after she finished opening for Coldplay, I knew I had to make it work. I could not make it to her show in NYC, so my other option was to travel to Boston. The show was at the Orpheum Theater, which is a small theater in which any type of show can be performed. I have never been to that small of a venue, and I loved its intimacy and less mainstream vibe.

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Alessia Cara performing

Alessia, first of all, is a super talented live performer. She played guitar and piano during her show and teased on a drum. She brought so much energy to her show, the audience couldn’t help but smile and sing along with her. It was an incredibly genuine performance. I also appreciated her positive words of encouragement and self-love she offered her fans throughout the show.

I had no idea who was opening for Alessia and I was shocked to find out she had two openers: Ruth B. and Nathan Sykes. I knew of Nathan Sykes from his boy band days with British group The Wanted. I never paid much attention to him—until now that is. Nathan’s voice, which is much deeper than I expected, is beautiful and passionate. My favorite part of the night was when Nathan came out on stage to sing with Alessia. It was pure magic. Ruth B., famous for her song, “Peter Pan,” gave a superb performance as well.

Additional to when Nathan and Alessia performed together and when Nathan replied to my tweet, my favorite part of the concert was at the end when Alessia took time to grab the hands of all the fans in the front row. This is a small gesture, but it shows how she really wants to connect with her fans and give them a fantastic experience.

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My friend Alexa and I at the venue

Alessia seems like such an incredible young woman, as an artist and as a normal girl from Canada. I will definitely support her through her music career and I hope she continues to follow her dreams. Some people said I was crazy for driving to Boston just for a concert, but I would do it all over again for Alessia.

The Season of Falling

It is a picturesque autumn day here in Hempstead, New York. The leaves are vivid shades of orange and red, gently being picked off branches one by one and blowing in the light breeze. The sun is shining and the air wraps around me with a light warmth, almost making me forget that temperatures will soon be unbearably chilly.

It’s fall, and college students like myself like to compare this time of the year to falling grade point averages and diminishing motivation to get things done. It is days like today I flash back to summer and wish I were on a beach without a care in the world.

I have been pondering the incredible adventures I had this summer and how fortunate I am to have gained so many precious memories. From cruising along the Danube to driving to Boston for just a day, the trips on which I embarked during the summer were only a foreshadowing of the adventures awaiting me.

The main attraction this semester was my fall concert series, as I call it. I was fortunate enough to attend four concerts during the semester, and of course, I wrote about them.

Until I unveil my experiences, however, here is a summer throwback to my trip to Lake Wallkill with one my best friends. This is something I watch to help me get through this time in which everything is “falling.”

 

MTV Video Music Awards 2016: First Thoughts

I attended the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards on August 28th at Madison Square Garden in New York City. For those of you who do not know, the VMAs has been dubbed as the “superbowl for pop music” and may be one of the most controversial award shows out there (flashback to Miley Cyrus’ 2013 performance with Robin Thicke).

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I have always dreamed of going to an award show and being in a pool of celebrities, and I cannot believe it actually happened. I also always wondered what occurred behind the scenes, so here are a few things I noted to myself during the show:

  1. Where are the celebs at?

Part 1: Obviously there were celebrities, but it seemed like this year was less star-studded than usual. There was no Taylor, Selena, Justin, Adele, Sia or other huge names and nominated people that one would expect to be present.

Part 2: The celebrities arrive extremely last minute, and seats were still being filled as the show started!

  1. Small Stage

I am always so amazed about how small television sets are because on camera, everything looks so much larger. The stage was quite tiny in person, and when I watched some of the show afterwards and really paid attention, I noticed it was small stage. The power of getting the right angle is real!

  1. Filmed for T.V.

Speaking of cameras, the show is definitely taped for television. The whole night was a rotation of performances, awards and long commercial breaks. I can see why some celebrities may get bored of award shows.

  1. Awards

Speaking of awards, there are so few awards actually given out on stage, it is shocking. Why would you need awards at an award show, anyway?

  1. Mix and Mingle

Celebrities were changing seats, conversing and taking pictures during every commercial break. They also got served beverages!

  1. Hands in the Air

If you have ever seen the VMAs, you probably noticed that the pit section, which is the section surrounding the stage, is filled with dancing fans during performances. The VMAs actually had people yelling at the audience to look more lively during the acts. It is easy to have fun during a performance, but it is a bit awkward waving your hands against the beat of a slow song!

These are just a few of the many things I noticed during the incredible concert, I mean award show. Thank you MTV for allowing me to feel like a celebrity for a night!

 

Budapest Day 2 Continued: A Show and a Cruise

I felt like a first class passenger on the Titanic Wednesday night. I don’t think that is something one says very often. Before I get to explaining that, let’s rewind a bit to the beginning of the evening.

When we parted ways with our lovely guide Claudia, Pop Pop and I freshened up a bit and headed to the Danube Palace, Duna Palota, to pick up our tickets for the Hungarian folklore show we planned to see. After we secured our tickets, we had some time to spare, so we stopped at an outside dining spot. The service was fabulous, my watermelon smoothie was refreshing and Pop Pop’s Snickers milkshake was delicious. The night was already off to a fantastic start.

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Loving my refreshing watermelon smoothie

After our quick refuel, we entered the palace and awaited the show. I had no idea what to expect, considering I have never come near a performance like this. The advertisement says the performances at this palace are by the Hungarian State Folk Ensemble the Danube Folk Ensemble and the Hungaria Folk Ensemble. I am not sure who we saw, because there were about ten of the 90 people in the combined ensembles. Regardless of who it was, the performance was absolutely incredible! It was bursting with energy and everyone looked like they were having the time of their lives. Folk dancing may seem weird or boring to some, but I was entertained the entire time. It was a composed blend of arm flailing, leg turning, clapping, snapping, slapping, stomping, and twirling. There was singing, yelling and balancing bottles on heads while dancing. Not to mention, the band was amazing. The instruments used were a violin, cello, a guitar and piano of some sort. If you ever have a chance to see a Hungarian folklore show, please do yourself a favor and see it.

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Awaiting the performance

Following this entertaining performance, we joined a massive group of people to walk from the palace to the river bank where the dinner boat was docked. I have never been on a dinner cruise before, although I have wanted to go on one around New York City for a while. The staff of Europa, the name of the boat, offered us drinks upon boarding and showed us to our seats. If this weren’t already a dream, a quartet set up on stage and started playing music. I was freaking out. How did I get so lucky to be on a dinner cruise on the Danube with my best friend? Our table was dressed with our place settings and an appetizer with two crackers and some sort of toppings. Dinner was a buffet with many options including two types of dumplings, fish, meat, potatoes, vegetables, salad and rice. The food was not the best I have ever had, but it was definitely tasty and plentiful. The dessert table looked fancy with individual small desserts decoratively arranged. Some of the desserts were garnished with chocolate butterfly wings, which I appreciated.

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Spread your (chocolate) wings and fly

While eating, we talked to a woman from Norway. Apparently, she was a study abroad student in the ‘70’s and stayed in touch with some of her new friends from all around the world. However, they lost touch, but when Facebook came around, they reconnected. Now, as many group members as possible get together every two years to visit each other at one of their homes. They get to travel to a new country, have a personal guide and see old friends. That is definitely something I would love to experience in my life.

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The parliament building from the boat

After dinner Pop Pop and I walked to the top of the boat and took in the breathtaking views of Budapest from the Danube. The banks of the river were already beautiful in the daylight, but at night, everything was lit up an absolutely stunning. The parliament building along with the Buda Castle and Victory tower were glowing like stars in the night sky. It was nice relaxing with beautiful views and fresh air.

After the cruise ended, Pop Pop and I strolled back to our hotel room and got ready to leave the next day. Oh, what a night!