Wowed by Jessie Ware.

Jessie Ware

Despite being on my juice cleanse and her stage time being 11pm, I ventured out last night to see Jessie Ware, the British darling of the music world last year with her debut album Devotion. The album is certainly one of my personal standouts from 2012 and I cannot wait for her to fully expand her prowess in 2013.

As part of the TNK festival at Lincoln Hall, Ware took the stage promptly after 11 and apologized for the lateness and couldn’t believe “the fucking cold.” That’s Chicago for you in January, though.

With only one album under her belt, Ware tore through a 50-minute show with more guts & gusto than is found on the album. With a 3-piece band behind her, Ware was vocally stronger and showed off a range that feels a little understated within the electronic hum of the album.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YyY5upiRO8Q

Songs like “Taking in Water,” dedicated to her younger brother, truly came to life with more gravitas. Her biggest hit, “Wildest Moments,” inspired couples in the audience to clutch to one another despite the song having somewhat of a bittersweet lyric.

> Watch a rendition of “Taking in Water” below:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGkPx4gxvn8

My favorite moments would have to be the interpolation of Marvin Gaye’s “I Want You” laid atop “No To Love,” one of the album’s funkier tracks that I just love. “Sweet Talk” also just had that delightful groove of late 80s Anita Baker gone pop.

> Watch a rendition of “Sweet Talk” below:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0TrD96ry4w

Ware, decked out in trademark crop-top and high-waisted harem pants, was absolutely charming and a gracious singer. My friend Anthony told me before the show that her sister had a breakout role in the Chicago-based television series “Boss,” featuring Kelsey Grammar. So imagine how much we shit ourselves when she herself brought up the same reference. Ware was a cross between the demeanor of Tracey Ullman and the style of Lisa Bonet in a chunkier, Dee-Lite style heel.

> Check out Anthony’s photos from the show.

The other standout moments for me were “Swan Song” and the cover of Bobby Caldwell’s “What You Won’t Do For Love,” which can be found on the new E.P. IF You’re Never Gonna Move. Oddly enough, Ware’s album had been on iTunes but she herself made a joke last night that it was ripped off the store and should be ‘officially’ out in the states in April.

You can pick up the EP below on iTunes and scour the web for Devotion if you’re down for such things.

If You're Never Gonna Move - EP - Jessie Ware

Best find a surgeon.

Last night I saw St. Vincent for the first time at the 312/Goose Island block party. She was pretty fantastic and I think I’m dedicating today to revisiting her catalog in full and giving her a more concentrated listen.

Favorite track, though, is “Surgeon.”

And this live version especially:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjZgiv2F1QY

Of course, the event was this weird amalgamation of hipsters, older folks, beer lovers and gays. So there you have it. Within that context, St. Vincent makes total sense.

It’s funny, I remember hearing her years ago right before her debut came out and I was a very passive listener. But her live show was much more raucous than I think how her albums play out so it’ll be good to revisit.

Things I’ve also been digging this week; I’m trying to be less playlist-making and more ‘This is how the artist built it, I shall listen to it as an entire composition’ about my listening habits.

Brandi Carlile, Bear Creak

Passion Pit, Gossamer

Frank Ocean, Channel Orange

Catch up.

 

It’s been a few days since I’ve posted and to the chagrin of my own declaration to blog every day, I’ve humbled myself to realize that sometimes you can only pre-plan content so much and that life will interrupt you in many good ways, namely in the visit of guests.

My mom came to visit for the weekend and I took her to see the Michael Jackson Cirque du Soleil show, which was truly fantastic. It kind of raises the bar for concerts – but I realize that not everyone is an amazing aerialist or acrobatic, but still…hire more of these performers for your concert, Madonna!

Other than that, we did some running around and adventuring, leading to a lot of, “How much farther do we have to walk?” being uttered by the person who doesn’t live here.

So regardless, I’m just letting you know that I’m here and not slacking on the responsibility of writing but there are things brewing in my head that I’ll be addressing when I have more quiet/down time.

I leave you with one of the songs performed at the show on Friday night, the lesser known (or commercial) single, “They Don’t Care About Us.” I’m telling you…if you get the chance to see this show, just go. You’ll undoubtedly know about 85% of the music and be blown away by the visuals, including the best stripper known to man (or woman) and who in a few mere seconds, became my idol.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QNJL6nfu__Q

This heat deserves a cold beer.

I forgot to mention that I had my 3 year anniversary of living in Chicago. What an insane and crazy time it’s been here thus far – on a personal growth level and even professionally. What’s funny is that now when I’m in New York, which seems more manageable as a livable city (albeit so expensive and crowded), Chicago seems so small.

Yet 1,095 days ago, I was completely flabbergasted by moving to a city where I really knew one person that I truly trusted and could rely upon. However, once my boyfriend showed up he did save me from myself. And while our relationship crumbled from that strain of relocation (and of course the subsequent journey of “Who am I here? Who do I WANT to be here?”), I think he became a bit of a saving grace for me. And I’ll say that I probably was the same for him to some extent, as part of recognizing my own ability to offer up support and care in my own “unique” way.

Fortunately, I met Jonathan shortly after and he’s become one of my closest friends here. And once I got a ‘real’ job, I started to get back into the swing of incorporating new people in to my life. And of course dating is its own beast, like a drunk trying to attempt to walk in a straight line. So much gravity taking hold of things you are trying to control but just can’t. All the lessons. In three years, there have been SO many lessons.

I wonder where I’d be or what I’d be doing if I never moved. What would have been? Who can say. I honestly have no idea what my life would be. Smaller-scaled? Yet more engrossing?

And of course I remember my anniversary because it’s hot outside (and inside). Summer heatwave has become the familiar friend to remind me. And I just want to drink beer:

Yesterday I decided that a pause is what I needed. I can’t be selfish with someone’s time while I try to sort myself out, determining what I need and want and crave.

Oh what my friends must assume. And yet while instigated by certain circumstances, they are not motivated solely from them. If you’re questioning why you are questioning, it’s probably best to stop and ask even more questions.

Yesterday, Alanis Morissette posted an update on her Facebook page that rung a little too true:

To stay in the discomfort for longer than is enjoyable. That’s the point of therapy and, to some extent, this diary/blog/journal/blathering. To give the tiny questioning voice in the background a megaphone so as to be heard clearly and addressed responsibly.

And as I said yesterday, part of the process that I’m interested in is engaging with myself here and moving this out into the world to close the circle.

Even as I think back over the last year, the leaps and bounds I have changed is a bit amazing to me. Which is why it’s funny that I can’t go back to being that person a year ago. I feel like I’ve finally found my footing again. Never did I lose my confidence, but I lost the path. I was wondering in the woods for a minute. With a blindfold. Similar to:

But now I’m found.

So let’s be grateful for a minute. Three things I’m just generally happy about:

  1. My job/career and the wonderful people who make every day so much fun
  2. “The Idler Wheel” album. Particularly ‘Daredevil.’ 
  3. Watermelon. It’s basically my entire summer diet along with cereal straight from the freezer.

I’d talk about what I’m reading, but I’ll save that for another day. Because I have to write every single day.

Sarah Jarosz, “Come Around”

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PEFuVV66ptw

Randomly came across this girl while trying to find other artists similar to Neko Case and I fell in love. By random luck, she’s playing Schuba’s Tavern on Tuesday and I got tickets. I’m so excited for some authentic music. Don’t get me wrong, Britney was awesome and all but nothing beats artists of this caliber.

Holy hell.

It’s hot. Sticky, humid, damp, sweltering. Like by 8am there’s a semi-debilitating heat in the air.

Mind you, I barely sleep because I still, by either some ignorant principle or sheer stupidity, don’t have an air conditioning unit. Perhaps in some sick, twisted way I use the summer heat to detox  – or lose 5 lbs very quickly.

Yesterday, I took a day to myself to get some errands done before the upcoming week and such and I want to say that I sweated through at least 2-3 shirts. For those concerned, yes I’m drinking a lot of water. And yes, I try to frequent establishments with more moderate temperatures.

Continue reading Holy hell.

Sometimes you can smell chocolate.

I don’t know where to start. Well, that’s a lie. I feel…passionless. It’s a struggle I’ve had for a while now.

In other news, sometimes in downtown Chicago, when a breeze comes in from the west, you can smell the Blommer Chocolate Factory. Yes, the air smells like brownie batter. No, moments like stepping outside and getting a whiff of brownies/chocolate cannot be beat.

Continue reading Sometimes you can smell chocolate.

My anniversary with the City.

A year ago today, I loaded up a U-haul truck and packed all of my things up with Nic and we drove to Chicago. I changed my life. I only remember the abundance of sadness that I felt that night before while having dinner with he and Ellen. And when we got home, I cried. A lot. The terror wasn’t what set me off. It was the realization that I was walking away into the unknown and leaving some of the best friends I’ve made in my life. Thank God Nic was there to talk sense into me and explain that the purpose behind all of this was that if I had stayed, I wouldn’t be satisfied with myself. If I had always wanted to leave, but never did, the sense of “What if” would always be there.

Continue reading My anniversary with the City.

Adele & Her Love For Beyonce

This week I went with Michael to see Adele, who has become one of my favorite singers thus far in my life. And after seeing her live, I’m pretty sure she’s got the best set of pipes I’ve heard on a human. Stunning, effortless power and such a sweet, charming woman. Adele is seriously in love with Beyonce and attributed her own long hair as her ‘Beyonce weave.’

There were a few songs that I teared up on, I’ll admit. Adele’s show at the Riviera was packed and while Oprah wasn’t there, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel certainly was and got the crowd all excited – especially when he fist pumped or did the Arsenio Hall arm stir.

The highlights were of course “Rolling in the Deep,” which has been at #1 for five weeks on the singles charts here. Other greats were “Rumor Has it,” “Someone Like You” and “Don’t You Remember.” However, one of the songs that I guess I never really took in while listening to 21 – which you need to just do yourself the favor and buy, seriously – was “One and Only.” When it started, Michael turned to me and whispered out another of his “Yesssss!” moments when any of his favorites were starting. By the time the bridge of the song hit, I was weeping. There I said it. Not like a mess, but I had to wipe my face. I think it meant something because he was there with me, we were sharing this.

Regardless, here’s the album version. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Buy Adele’s 21 here:

21 - ADELE