Tag Archives: new york city

A-E-I-O-U and sometimes Y

October 4, 1996

October 4, 1996

I was born in the late 70’s and grew up in the suburbs of Washington, DC and Hartford, CT.  I knew nothing of the “streets” or city life, although I was drawn to it.  I wanted to understand the world that was so different from mine. So, like any curious little suburban girl, I grasped for things that I thought would bring me closer to that understanding. I watched “Breakin’,” wore my pink and gray parachute pants and practiced my head spins as often as I could.  At the time, it seemed logical–I was 6 years old.

Despite my desire and incessant practicing, I quickly learned that breakdancing was not my calling.  Soon thereafter, I found a new obsession–hip-hop–lurking closely behind the breakdancing culture that exploded in the 80s.  In 1985, I stood in a family friend’s bedroom with my older brother and listened to Run DMC’s “King of Rock” album.  I had never heard anything like it, but I wanted more. Soon thereafter, Beastie Boys, Public Enemy and Big Daddy Kane found their way to our boom box and we were hooked.

Fast-forward to our family trip to San Diego in 1990. On a hot summer day, my brother and I roamed through a flea market before heading to a Padres game with our parents. I spotted the stand that sold cassette singles and started scanning the titles.  At that time, cassette singles were where it was at.  You’d get the original track along with maybe 2-3 remixes without having to buy the whole album.  It was at this flea market stand where I purchased the small chunk of hip-hop history that would forever shape how I measure hip-hop from that point on–“I Left My Wallet in El Segundo” by A Tribe Called Quest.

I wore that cassette single out to the point where it literally would not play anymore.  I bought the album, “People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm,” and watched Yo! MTV Raps as much as I could, just to get a glimpse of Tribe videos and interviews.  My catalog of hip-hop grew, but I always fell back on Tribe as the best.  I thrived off of the beats, the samples, the flow, the lyrics, the intellect, and the fact that they celebrated their uniqueness without a care in the world.

The next two albums, “Low End Theory” and “Midnight Marauders,” solidified Tribe’ place at the top. I was supposed to go see them perform at Lollapallooza in 1994 but was sidelined by a yearly physical that somehow couldn’t be rescheduled (Note to self:  if my future child has a doctor’s appointment on the same day as a concert where he/she will get to experience his/her favorite band for the first time live, I will let the child go to the show).  I was devastated, and had to wait another 2 years until they came through and played at the college I was attending.  It was my freshman year and the only time I’ve ever seen them live.  I rode the rail, rapped along with them like I was the 5th member, and even got a wave and smile from Q-Tip after the show.

To this day, I continue to find surprises in Tribe’s songs–a witty lyric I somehow missed or a sample that now jumps out and makes listening to Tribe a new experience.  I think something in hip-hop died when Tribe dissolved.  Even though there are a handful of musicians that still try to carry Tribe’s torch and light that path of hip-hop, there still feels like something is missing.

I spent most of my teens and twenties immersed in hip-hop.  Once Tribe called it quits, I turned to groups like Outkast, The Roots, Del the Funky Homosapein and Mos Def.  These musicians excited me in the same way Tribe did, but never enough to knock Q-Tip, Phife, Ali, and Jarobi off of their pedestal.  While it is true that all good things come to an end, from a fan’s point of view it is never easy to watch.  Fans are greedy and sometimes forget that musicians are real people with real problems.

Recently, I was turned on to “Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest,” a 2011 documentary directed by actor Michael Rapaport. This documentary speaks to the highest of highs and the lowest of lows of my favorite hip-hop group.  It was sad to watch, but joyful at the same time because it transported me back to those years when Tribe’s albums dropped and gave us some of the best music that the world has ever heard.  Even for those readers who never got into A Tribe Called Quest, this documentary is worth your time and attention.  Enjoy!

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Fortune Favors the Bold – The Avett Brothers @ McKittrick Hotel

Scott Avett sang, “I will rearrange my plans and change for you,” during the song “If It’s the Beaches” on Wednesday night, at the McKittrick Hotel in New York City. However, I was the one who found myself changing my plans on September 25, 2013 in order to attend a private Avett Brothers concert in The Heath room of the fictional hotel and home of the off-Broadway play, Sleep No More. The band played an eighteen-song set that was taped for the PBS program, Front and Center. The concert is to be aired in early 2014 in support of their upcoming album, Magpie and the Dandelion, being released on October 15th.

After reading a tweet from The McKittrick Hotel, a routine weekday morning at work quickly ended when I made the decision to board a train to New York City. The hotel was giving away a handful of tickets to Avett Brothers’ fans for a secret event at 8:00pm. The details were minimal, but I had made it to Penn Station and I was determined to win. Constant refreshing of my twitter news feed and a mild addiction to social media paid off–I was in.

At the entrance doors of a warehouse in Chelsea, a host read my name on the guest list and invited me in. I was escorted to a dark and eerie elevator and taken to the fifth floor where the show was to be held. The home of the play, Sleep No More, is a 100,000 square foot building that is modeled to look like a 1930’s hotel, known as The McKittrick Hotel. This special occasion was a rarity for the band, as well as for the hotel. While a show is held at the hotel every night, this concert was much different than what usually happens at Sleep No More. Typically, guests are given white masks and instructed not to speak. They wander the rooms of the haunted hotel and follow actors.  Guests experience the play, based on the story Macbeth, in a much different way. They are told, “Fortune favors the bold,” and are encouraged to stand out from the crowd or they just may be taken into a hidden room or given privy information. Those who have seen the play, return again and again because it’s a different experience every time.

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The Heath room, was decorated like a haunted hotel bar–dark, cozy, and a little bit spooky. The walls of the small room were lined with booths and the floor was full of tables set for two. Drinks were being poured at the bar and large HD television cameras were resting on their tripods. The stage sat crowded with instruments as guests made their way to their seats. A Sleep No More mask lay at the foot of the drum kit. The room held 200 people, but it was not full. I took my seat in the front row, ordered a drink, and admired the elegant décor while I waited for the show to begin.

The band took the stage at 9:00pm. As he plugged in his Martin D35 guitar, Seth Avett whispered into the microphone, “It’s so quiet,” and let out a laugh. They thanked the audience for attending and kicked off the set with the song “Live and Die,” from their 2012 album, The Carpenter. As I sat in my chair, I fought the urge to get up and dance. I assumed the PBS cameraman behind me would not want me blocking his shot.

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The band played crowd favorites, such as “Murder and the City,” “I and Love and You,” and “Laundry Room.” Among the set were also new songs, “Another is Waiting,” “Vanity,” “Morning Song,” and “Apart from Me,” all to be featured on the new album. Having attended several Avett Brothers concerts, I had been waiting to hear “Morning Song” performed live. Although I have not listened to the new album in its entirety, I can already tell this song will be a favorite of mine. The show was intimate and unlike any other I’ve seen. The band told stories and joked with one another throughout the set. Between songs, Scott reminisced about visiting New York City for the first time at age 26. He said he was intimidated by the fast paced city life, but has since grown a love for the city, and was happy to be back. “This is very exciting for us, to be playing a place like this,” he confessed to the audience. The band had created a setlist prior to taking the stage, but changed a number of songs on it to better suit the mood of the room. Scott and Seth would have short debates on what to play next in between many of the songs.

The final song of the encore was “If It’s the Beaches.” A passionate love song, played quietly to a room of attentive ears. The audience rose to their feet and applauded the band whole-heartedly, exchanging ear to ear smiles with the band. It had been a special experience for all of us. I joked with a friend, telling her my face hurt because of the permanent grin I had worn for two straight hours.

In groups of ten, we boarded the elevator and made our way to the exit. Once outside, we saw the band hustle into a van to be whisked away. Fortune favors the bold and fortune certainly favored me when I made the bold move to leave work early on a Wednesday morning. I’m thankful for this experience and look forward to reliving it through the PBS broadcast of Front and Center early next year.

The Avett Brothers will stay in New York for the next few days. They are scheduled to appear at New York’s Town Hall for Another Day, Another Time on Sunday, September 29th. This concert event is celebrating folk music of the 1960s. Several other musicians will be joining, such as Jack White, Marcus Mumford, Joan Baez, Punch Brothers, Collin Meloy, Milk Carton Kids, Patti Smith, Conor Oberst, and more. On Monday, September 30th, The Avett Brothers will return to Late Night with Jimmy Fallon for a television performance on NBC.

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The Setlist 9/25/13:

Live and Die

Laundry Room

Old Joe Clark

Down With the Shine

Another Is Waiting

Morning Song

Go to Sleep

The Prettiest Thing (David Childers cover)

Life

Ballad of Love and Hate

Just a Closer Walk With Thee

Apart From Me

A Father’s First Spring

Vanity

I and Love and You

Encore

Murder in the City

Shady Grove

If It’s the Beaches

For the first time in Evolution of a Fan history, we welcome our first guest blogger, Karissa Sevensky.  Karissa was fortunate enough to share a very special evening with The Avett Brothers at McKittrick Hotel this past week, and kind enough to share her experience and photos with us!  Thank you Karissa.

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