An ideal day is a day in which routine things feel like just that, routine. The shower doesn’t feel like your boat ride by Niagara Falls which was stuck dangerously close to the tears of nature for three hours, but instead showering is ten minutes where your Bluetooth speaker doesn’t power off in the middle of playing old Björk albums. When I approach the foggy mirror after showering, I’d notice that my stubble is light enough to the point where shaving would be overkill and thusly my morning routine is sped up by what feels like hours. I could go on juxtaposing the beauty of the mundane and explaining how normalcy creates and opens a window to endless excitement, but I won’t. One of my favorite moments in life is when the ratio between talking and listening to friends seems as nonexistent as good-tasting packaged ramen. It’s special when a friend can rant to you about how sick they are of listening to couples argue on and on about the effects of neocolonialism and how it’s altering the millennial’s psyche, and then you so graciously reciprocate with a vivid description of how you applied your hemorrhoid cream to your posterior this morning, all the while your friend sits there devouring their scrambled eggs. I want my ideal day to be filled with conversations, misheard and heard unwillingly. I need to observe to preserve. The day should challenge me to the point where I can say, “Oh look at that, another day where your anxiety stood at your doormat and only accomplishments came in for crumpets and tea, how lovely.”
Seinfeld. Lots and lots of Seinfeld. Preferably ones in which I don’t remember at least one of the sub-plots and George complains a lot. Television usually doesn’t become a cornerstone of what makes a good day for me, but Seinfeld isn’t television. I live and breathe “Festivus.” I host scars on my cerebellum from the “Airing of Grievances.” Escaping from the material world through a plastic and glass box containing dozens of LED’s is piously therapeutic. I’d ideally be sitting on a burgundy leather couch with cracks large enough to the point where I could lose my phone in each crevice and proceed to have minor anxiety after hearing a bing, and not being able to find the source. My arms would be crossed, my fingers deprived of activity or tingling, my lungs expanding and contracting calmly, and my eyes laying on metaphorical pillows. A large amount of my joy is from bodily awareness, or more specifically, the relief brought by lack of it.
My thirst for sexual innuendos will have been quenched by this point in the day after hours of Seinfeld and hunger would be reaching maximum notoriety. Perusing GrubHub isn’t as easy as it sounds. After countless Iliad-like battles with the logistics of online food delivery, Indian food would be on the way. Crispy golden brown samosas, spotted fluffy naan, succulent and naturally red tandoori chicken, all of these dishes lay helpless and barraged by a topping of cherry chutney sauce containing the beauty and pertinence of ambrosia. Upon finishing the meal I’d roll off the couch and onto the floor. My cat would come close to me, think about licking me, but in the end turn her head from such a gruesome figure. Feeling disparaged I’d scratch my way across a wooden floor and climb up to the nearby window. Watching as snow melodically lines the streets of Chicago, I’d think to myself, “Wes Anderson wouldn’t film here, there’s not enough contrived pastel coloring.” Simultaneously relieved and enraged by this fact, I would put on a Jean-Luc Godard film and wallow in supposed pretentious young adult sadness. This would for the most part complete my day. I’d then chug half a bottle of NyQuil and dream about airport anxiety mixed with poorly timed text messages. Analyze that Freud.
- Since writing my first article about being a small girl in mosh pits a few weeks ago I’ve received a lot of positive feedback, so I’m pretty excited to keep writing about this topic after every few shows I go to. I even got a Reva award for being “Small but Mighty” from the Women’s Resource Center for that article and for some other work I’ve done for the WRC (thanks Molly, Alex, and Blake). So here goes…
The Kickback, Audible Meats, 3/5/16
The best shows I’ve ever been to have been at Urbana house shows. As some of you might know, there has been a serious house show drought in Urbana while the music community has been searching for new safe spaces that want to host. Hopefully this venue sparks a new wave of safe spaces to host shows at. So far, they’ve hosted some really fun shows. One reason I really like house shows here in Urbana is because the community is so tightly knit that I can look around the crowd and recognize basically everyone. There are a lot of different aspects you could take into consideration when labeling a venue as a safe space. Recognizing everyone isn’t necessary for me to feel safe at a show, but it definitely helps. So, this was the third time I’ve seen the Kickback. Even though they’re from Chicago, all three times I’ve seen them were at Urbana house shows, and they never disappoint. The basement at Audible Meats is pretty small, and the Kickback shows can get a little rowdy. It’s pretty easy to send me flying across a room, so sometimes I like a really small venue because I can’t fly that far. So I didn’t get thrown that far, but I did get launched really fast into a pillar during “Rob Our House”, which left my entire body sore for the next few days. At least when I’m in a crowd full of my friends, they try to avoid elbowing me in the face.
Parquet Courts, Metro Chicago, 4/20/16
This was my second time seeing Parquet Courts in the span of a few months. I haven’t been an active part of the music scene in Chicago for the past few years because I’ve been living in Urbana, but it seems like a lot of the people I’ve met in Urbana have gravitated towards Chicago. This show was like an Urbana reunion. Like I mentioned earlier, seeing familiar faces in the crowd makes me feel really comfortable in the pit at shows, especially up in Chicago where the pit tends to be more aggressive. This pit was particularly aggressive, even though there were only a few songs that were mosh-able. Probably because they played their entire new album, which isn’t as punky as some of their older albums. The crowd was itching to mosh, but only got a few chances to do it, so they got really pumped every chance they got. They opened with Sunbathing Animal. This is one of my favorite songs ever, but I still think it was weird choice for an opener. After seeing them in February, I was pretty convinced that they didn’t really understand how to choose a set list, and this show confirmed that. At least they didn’t close with Uncast Shadow this time. I don’t agree with how they organize their set lists, but you can tell by their music that they like to do what ever they want, and if you don’t like it, that’s your problem. Sorry, I got a little off-track, but that song set the mood for a fast-paced, high-energy show, so I went straight for the pit. The first thing I noticed, which ended up being the biggest obstacle, was the wall of couples in the very front, angrily shoving the moshers away, as if this was unexpected during such a fast song. Other than that, this pit was not very eventful in terms of being a small girl, which is a good thing, I think?
Journalism, Audible Meats, 4/21/16
This was another show full of people I knew, so the pit was great. I have to thank the Urbana music community for slowly getting me more and more comfortable in the pit. I probably would have never even thought about entering the more intense mosh pits I’ve been a part of if I didn’t start out moshing with a crowd full of familiar faces. There were four bands at this show, but the only one anyone wanted to mosh to was a band from New York called Journalism. I, inevitably, got thrown into that same pillar from the Kickback show. Since this was the day after the Parquet Courts show, I was twice as sore after hitting that pillar this time. Mosh pits look really violent from the outside, but they rarely actually get violent. This show was an exception. This venue is relatively new, and I noticed that it was a lot of peoples’ first time being in a mosh pit. Regardless of your size, you’re going to get hit at least once. One person in particular was not used to getting shoved around and occasionally punched or kicked. He ended up starting a fight that quickly got broken up by my roommate Brandon and a few other people. I’m used to the aggression in mosh pits, but after that I stayed out of the pit.
Being afraid to get into a rowdy pit is fine. I love moshing, but I still get intimidated sometimes. As someone who panics when there’s no seats on the bus because she’s too short to reach the bars on the ceiling, I get it. Sometimes being afraid of things that people do without thinking twice about it feels irrational, but it’s just because people don’t really see the world from your point of view. Hopefully these articles are validating for some of you. If you’re trying to build up the courage to join a mosh pit, don’t think of it as a riotous crowd. In the words of Kickboy Face from the short-lived band Catholic Discipline talking about how he feels when he’s on stage, “I’m making an ass of myself, but I’m getting away with it.” The same goes for the people in the crowd. We’re not trying to start a riot, we’re just letting loose in place where we can get away with it.
So first things first: Singapore does not have good American pizza. There’s this stuff called VPN (Vera Pizza Napoletana) which is pretty much Italian style flatbreads and a handful of Pizza Huts. But be it thin-crust or deep-dish, a high quality version of the American staple is absent in this part of the world. This does not mean that the food here does not kick ass, but this topic could make up another post completely.
For now, we will begin with introductions: I am Dan Ammer and I work in pizza fm. I do not have a show this semester because I am 20 hours away from Champaign-Urbana by plane and I am writing this to report to you the similarities and differences of life for a commercial free radio DJ in a similar but distant place. I can only hope that the current president of Pizza FM takes it upon herself to continue this series when we switch roles, but I will refrain from naming names.
(It was Germany, wasn’t it?)
Upon arriving in the city of Singapore in the country of Singapore, it was brought to my attention that the local music scene was currently going through what is referred to as “the Cover Music Movement.” Now I’m not sure if this series of three words would hit you the way it hit me, but imagine for a moment that you are to stepping into a big city comparable to New York City or Chicago in size and demeanor with a hope of exploring the sea of new music that becomes available to you in a new location (and a lingering hope of perhaps writing about it some day), and then being told the currently local music scene is dominated by young people doing top 40 covers… Maybe you aren’t me, but maybe this would disappoint you greatly.
I was worried.
As far as the rest of the art community goes, I was reminded of the infamy of the government and that it had not supported the development of the arts. That art museums and art schools were not promoted or encouraged before the last 5 years came around and that it was underdeveloped. So I figured I would have to search.
So that’s what I did
While the art community of Singapore is still indeed developing (with bigger art museum installments, more space dedicated to Singaporean artists, and liberal arts colleges opening in the city-state), there has always been an underground culture for certain types of music to gain momentum. From what I have gathered, the underground went through a death metal phase in the 90s and an emo punk phase in the early 2000s (mirroring the rise of bands such as Greenday and Fall Out Boy, it seems). These sorts of counter-cultures were staunchly rejected by the society at large and, aside from a few crumbling forums, they seem to be nearly forgotten. In late years, however, there seems to be a push towards original Singaporean culture such as the street markets in Bugis, the famous Hawker Centers scattered around towns, and, thankfully, a new and flourishing music scene.
I have had the pleasure of catching some of these acts and many of them are featured in a playlist below:
From their name to their sound, Cashew Chemists sounds like home. The blues-rock outfit sounds like they could have been playing Chicago bars since they were in highschool and are planning to release their debut LP soon.
[.gif] plays around with electronics to bring together a sound that is completely their own, it also translates well live thanks to their musicianship and energy.
One of the biggest local names here is Charlie Lim, with good reason. He’s got a professional grade voice and a strong variety of tunes. I can only imagine the man is going places and I’ll be awaiting his release early this summer.
And perhaps my favorite act, Seyra. The six-piece group from Malaysia boasted interesting instrumentation, wonderfully soaring walls of sound, and a blend of folk, post-rock, and pop, I can only hope that they pay a visit one day to America.
As for the rest of the playlist, these are songs that I have either heard live or have simply been stuck in my head since coming to Singapore… Except for Taylor Swift. She is in there (front and center) because I am not sure if I have gone a single day abroad (in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and the Maldives) without hearing a piece of that song and believe you me, this is hardly an exaggeration. Good for her I suppose, she’s certainly made it big.
For your listening pleasure I have compiled a track from each artist into an 8tracks playlist here (Yes, the pizza in the thumbnail is indeed served at Pizza Hut for Chinese New Year).
Well, I suppose that’s all I’ve got for you for now. Feel free to ask me any of your burning questions and I’ll do my best to incorporate it into my next post.
DJ Dan Ammer