By Caleigh Horan
Around the fifth consecutive day of lazing around over winter break, I opened up Snapchat to see what my always adventurous friend Sarah was up to. A glimpse into her digital world revealed an dimly lit room featuring a man softly plucking a guitar. Naturally, my hipster senses started tingling, and I asked her what she was up to.
She told me she was attending a concert put on by Sofar Sounds, a “global music movement,” hosted in over 398 cities to date. A concept created by London music fans Rafe Offer and Rocky Start, Sofar Sounds has been hosting secret events across the globe since 2009. Their purpose is simple: foster community through unique, intimate performances through a vast repertoire of artists. Past Sofar performers include Foxing, The National, and Julien Baker. Sofar transforms ordinary places, such as a house or retail shop, into a close knit venue that offers a truly immersive experience between the artist and listeners. Once I learned the premise of Sofar, I eagerly begged Sarah to bring me along to her next concert experience.
Earlier this week, Sarah alerted me that she had scored tickets through Sofar’s lottery system, and that the address would be sent to her a few days before the show. I was enticed by the mystery surrounding this event, both in its secret location and lack of information regarding the artists that were slotted to perform; we would not find that out until the night of. It was soon revealed that the show would be hosted at a house only 2 blocks north of SLU’s campus. My trip north gave me one of the most captivating experiences I’ve had in a very long time.
We rolled up to the location around 7:30 on Saturday night buzzing with wonder, dropped at the doorstep of a lofty, Victorian-era home. As we entered, we were instructed to begin scaling the house through a series of winding staircases, a long journey that made me wonder if this is what my friend Beth had experienced when she ascended the stairs of the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam. We arrived in a large attic space that served as the house owner’s (more to come on him) art studio, adorned with brightly colored canvases of fruit and flowers in addition to an array of potted plants. We promptly popped a squat on the hardwood floor alongside other guests who ranged from college students to grey-haired old folks, all in the same room for the same purpose.
The performance began with hip-hop artist, R.O.E., a self-professed “extremely confident individual” from West Chicago. He made us laugh with his silly and honest banter in between songs, and united us through his cover of The Fugees “Killing Me Softly,” encouraging listeners to sing along. Between his buzzed commentary and detailed verses, R.O.E. transformed his set into a 45 minute journey through the inner workings of his mind.
R.O.E. was followed by another rapper, Zado, a soft-spoken, deep-voiced performer whose short set packed a punch in terms of intellectual depth (is that what the kids call bars?). What I enjoyed most about Zado’s precise performance was a rare, humble kind of confidence that he exuded in front of us. It’s one thing to know that you’re the shit and act like it, but Zado let his music do the talking for him, a subtlety that did not go unappreciated. Although hip-hop is not my first choice in genre to enjoy at a concert, I found myself bopping along to the beat and enjoying myself thoroughly.
In between each set, there was a 10 minute break to allow for the next artist to set up. Following Zado’s performance, my friends and I decided to explore the colossal castle. We zig zagged through floors of antiquely furnished bedrooms and bathrooms, and I honestly felt like I was exploring the ruins of the Titanic. My favorite of these gloriously crafted rooms was a bathroom, fit with an enormous bathtub canopied by tangled vines and shutters that must let in orgasmic natural light during the day time. This house itself was a work of art self. During our exploration, we also met the house’s owner, Stan, a craftsman who once ran into trouble with the law for growing certain illegal grasses in his backyard. He was just as captivating as his home, which he frequently opens up to the public for events like Sofar.
As the break neared its end, we grabbed our seats again and prepared for what became my favorite act of the night, Krystal Metcalfe. Adorned in a feathery, black and white jacket, she was larger than life with a voice to prove it. Backed up by two beaming guitar players, I couldn’t help but smile throughout her soulful and vivacious set. In the middle of her set, she interacted with the crowd in a way that ended up being my favorite part of the night. She asked us to turn to 3 people we didn’t know in the room, greet them with a hug, and provide them with one compliment. This was an act that clearly pushed the boundaries of comfort for many, but I found it a heartwarming way to get to know and appreciate the people around me. I felt immersed in a community of like-minded individuals. On a high of happiness from the warmth around me, we progressed into the final act of the night, Najii Person, another STL based hip-hop artist who wowed me with his particularly woke verses about living as a black man in St. Louis. This was a night I wished would never end.
Before we left the event, we stopped to take a photograph by a large self-portrait of Stan that hung above his fireplace, a perfect ending to a truly intriguing night. In just a few hours, I had opened myself up to new genres of music, new architecture, and new personalities. I exited the house feeling as though I had experienced something larger than myself. I hope to have more experiences like this past Saturday night in the upcoming year, challenging me to explore outside the lines. This was the first of hopefully many wonderful nights with Sofar Sounds.
By Tom Bergan
“Brockhampton released three albums in six months, and they’ve got another one coming sometime in 2018.”
This line, which I have repeated countless times when introducing my friends to Brockhampton, usually garners a response that is somewhere between shock and awe. Often, their response is supplemented with a line along the lines of “What the hell, that’s absurd!” I simply nod in agreement, and at this point I am usually queueing up either “STAR” or “SWEET,” two tracks that immediately catch people upon first listen.
The conversation often delves into the details of the group’s origins, with members meeting on the Kanye West forum “KanyeToThe,” moving into a house in Los Angeles, then working on the already legendary Saturation Trilogy, a level of output that has been matched by few in music history. The boy-band is so much more than simply a band, however, and this cannot be overstated. They’re a collective that is creating some of the freshest content in production, videography, photography and music, obviously, in a time in which so much media is repetitive. Their music videos have a homemade/low-budget vibe that is incredibly addictive and artistic at the same time. Their merch is reminiscent to that of Tyler the Creator’s GOLF line, with a simplicity that relies on color schemes (in a good way). And it can almost be guaranteed that their full length movie, filmed in under two weeks and slated for release in theatres sometime in 2018, will have the same unique creativity that only Brockhampton can bring to the table.
Within their ranks there’s Merlyn, with an eclectic delivery that involves vocal manipulation and lines that sometimes border on absurdity (for example, screaming his name, “MERLYN” at the beginning of “STUPID,” or hitting listeners with the wonderfully puzzling “Don’t call me stupid, that ain’t no way my name pronounced” in “SWEET”). There’s Joba, one of the vocalists whose singing has provided both some of the most exhilarating and beautiful moments in the band’s catalog (see: “ZIPPER” and “JOHNNY” respectively). And there’s a dozen more, who could just as easily be gushed over for their versatility and creativity that they have all showcased through Brockhampton’s creative output (if we talk about Brockhampton in person, be sure to cut me off at this part, because I could talk your ear off simply discussing each of the members).
When Brockhampton comes through the speakers, they take the listener on a musical journey through a plethora of sounds in the span of just a few songs. The variance between the dancey chaos of “BOOGIE’s” staccato verses, the introspective reflection of Ameer’s verse in “SUNNY,” and Matt Champion’s call-out of male entitlement in “JUNKY” is what separates them from other groups. Within 15 minutes of my introduction of Brockhampton to friends, they have seen them at their softest and hardest. It seems that in just a year’s time, Brockhampton has created music for any scenario, while always remaining true to the artistic origins of the group. Whether one needs the perfect song to bump at a party or wants to existentially walk alone in a moment’s sadness, Brockhampton has the answer, yet another accolade that few artists can claim (and one that almost none can claim so quickly in their career).
Possibly the most exciting fact about Brockhampton is that they’re just getting started. The upwards trajectory of their popularity is apparent in their social media presence, one of the easiest ways to track the growth in popularity of someone in today’s society. Many members started 2017 with a thousand or so followers at most; whereas today, many of them boast upwards of 50 thousand followers on some platforms, with the official Brockhampton Instagram sitting at 263 thousand followers at the time of publishing. And while many of the members have been involved in creating music for years, none are older than 25, a fact that I was immediately shocked by upon discovering the group, and one that continually impresses my friends who seemingly also find a connection with the group. In regards to the lack of age difference between the band and the listener, it seemingly creates a bond not always felt in art. It does not feel as if Brockhampton are making music “at” their fans, only for their consumption. Rather, it feels as if Brockhampton are making music “with” their fans, taking them along for their journey, and this is where the connection with their age is felt by many, myself included.
Photo by Ashlan Grey
The band is kicking off a tour this week that is hitting the entire country, from Texas to New York to California, and everywhere in between. I would bet that their live shows will be just as exhilarating to experience as their other output, and I implore you to check them out in some capacity. Listen to an album of theirs, watch their music videos, and before you know it, you’ll be just like me, itching at the chance to show Brockhampton to everyone you know.
There is one act that your everyday Saint Louis University student who uses legs to walk cannot get out of, and that thing is ye olde West Pine trek. Whether your foot-bound commute is 20 minutes from Xavier to Littiken, 5 from Spring to Morrissey, or 1 from DuBourg to Verhaegen, you deserve to make it a good one.
What’s the best way to get this done? A West Pine-dedicated anthology of tunes to power your feet forward, of course. Like the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive” for performing CPR, your West Pine Mixtape should give you a beat to boogie down campus. Why make conversations with people you know whilst out and about when you can listen to Jason Derulo, Wham!, or the explicit version of “Girlfriend” by Avril Lavigne?
My favorite part of listening to music with every single step I take is not being able to talk to others, whether I’m genuinely trying to communicate with them or not. I love the thrill of making an idiot out of myself as I rip out out my headphones when a pal shoots me a friendly platitude. I revel in pride when peers shout things at me and I am socially forced to pretend to have heard them. I don’t know about you, but here are my reasons for always jamming out on West Pine journeys:
Why listen to the sweet sounds of every undergrad breathing through the cold when “He Could Be the One” by Hannah Montana is so captivating? Plug your white bundles of joy into your ear canals, turn up on that volume button with vigor, and move your feet, Billikens.
To prove my point, I have listed some West Pine anthems below. Enjoy, drones.
Consume art at every possible moment, Bills. Raise a middle finger to social interaction. Make Tyra Banks proud. Walk with power, walk with Taio Cruz, and walk with the sweet lyrics of angst-induced Blink 182. Cheers.
By Annie Bryan
“The birds singing
The sun rising
As I wait for you”
-“Darling,” Real Estate
Good morning to anyone looking to grow and foster closer friendships. If you’re a tender human being with friends you want to show your appreciation for, consider a friend-specific accumulation of songs as your generation’s Hallmark greeting card. Here’s my big pitch. Enjoy, drones.
There is little evidence for or against the intentionality and thoughtfulness of curating music for a friend. A gift without cost, playlists tell your pal that you care about who they are and what makes their ears happy in a way that shows them that you’re thinking of them.
Welcome to the new way of saying “hi” to people in college, an environment where you may not have time for even your best friends. The intentions for curating relationships and good vibes amongst peers found within making a playlist for them goes a long way. How many times have you intended to put a coffee date on your calendar with a friend? Made dinner plans and had to cancel because something else came up?
Have no fear, comrade. A cryptic and thoughtful Spotify, YouTube, SoundCloud or (to heck with it) 8tracks playlist is the way to go. No need for CD copies, records, or tapes. Playlists are whimsically intangible. Revel in their lack of experience of the third dimension. Raise a fist to physics and rejoice. While you’re at it, realize that music doesn’t follow the useless rules of time, or Google Calendar, or class schedules, or office hours. Toss your playlist to a friend via hitting that soft share through text button while you pass them on campus.
Better yet, here’s an entire list of extremely valid scenarios as a moodboard for when you can shoot a love-filled playlist to a friend in your college-compounded lifestyle:
We’re about to unload on a whole new messy and semi-productive semester, and I hope your hectic and terrible next four months are filled with as much intentionality, fellowship, and tenderness as possible.
From one person with friendships to another, from one student with friends living in Europe to another, from one surviving human being to another, let’s just get super close to people this semester. Share a friend your deepest darkest secrets via symbolism-stuffed lyrics. What do your ears think of when you think of your one special, mega-platonic friend? Let them know. Let the world know.
By Caleigh Horan
As I sit on a crowded Amtrak barreling through frosted Central Illinois, I am dumbfounded that yet another year has slipped through my fingers. Quickly approaching the end of this truly remarkable year, I have decided to reflect upon it in the best way I know how, through music. Here are a few of the songs that have carried me through 2017.
Cynicism - Nana Grizol
"I once had a lover, I’m not sure if I’ll recover, but I know it was worth it."
This gem came to me via a Discover Weekly playlist in early February this year, a time where I most definitely needed the wisdom it proscribes. Beginning with only a soft electric guitar and vocals, it slowly but surely builds in orchestral elements and depth, packing a punch with the last stanza. At its climax, we receive the lyric, “cynicism isn’t wisdom, it’s a lazy way to say that you’ve been burned,” followed by a joyous explosion of instrumental sound. This line has stuck with me ever since my first listening of the song. At several points throughout the year, I was met with cynics, hardened by the sharp cuts that life had dealt them, who threatened to squash my ever-present optimism. What I’ve realized, both through this song and my time with these opposing forces, is that cynicism, along with apathy, are simply cop-outs to dealing with the human condition. Passion and desire are what keep this world spinning for me, not someone’s snobbish opinion of why my taste in music is lame. This song effectively highlights this reasoning in the matter of 2 minutes and 30 seconds, a short but sweet masterpiece.
Sometime Around Midnight - The Airborne Toxic Event
“You just have to see her, and you know that she'll break you in two”
This is a quintessential New Years Eve song. I mean, how many other days of the year is there such widespread anticipation invested into the clock’s arrival at yet another hour? And when, exactly, does this emotional frenzy begin? Sometime around midnight. This song encapsulates the feeling I imagine many people experience on the last day of the year, of holding onto something that is inevitably fleeting. I know I’ve been there.There’s something about New Year’s Eve that offers an off-kilter sort of possibility, as if anything could happen on this final night. This time around, however, the girl gets away, resulting in an upheaval of violins and strident vocals. It’s magical, but not in the glitzy, romantic kind of way. Through the pain of this loss, we are met with beautiful resolve, as the song ends with a single electric guitar. I am a firm believer in the necessity of this type of pain, as terrible as it may be in the moment. We feel pain because we are alive, and that’s truly something worth writing about.
I’m back, riding the rails yet again. No, I cannot claim I have acquired any additional or supernatural wisdom in the short hours since I wrote my first entry. However, I do have a few jams that I’m listening to on this first day of 2018 that I would like to share with you wonderful folks.
This Is the Day - The The
"You smile and think how much you've changed"
This is a song I listen to on days where life feels a little bigger than myself. Right from the beginning, the quirky instrumentation dares you not to smile. Its characteristically 80’s sound brings me back to the idea of an era where times must have been a little simpler than they are now, a sort of golden age for the millenials. Here we are, at yet another year, another crossroads, and another opportunity to begin again. How will you do it differently this time? What will you do the same? You have 365 brand-spanking new days that you can make “the day,” right in the palm of your hand. Who’s to say that you can’t have several of these days “when things fall into place” in the next year? I hope to approach the new year with the belief that any day can be “the day,” and I hope that you can too.
The Heart is a Muscle - Gang of Youths
"I am human now and terrified, but want it all the same"
Gang of Youths is an Australian indie-rock band that has had significant impact on me since I discovered them through the CMJs (holla at KSLU) in early 2016. This track off of their sophomore album, Go Farther In Lightness, continues their ongoing spectacle through an outstanding display of compassion. Vulnerability and rock and roll typically don’t walk hand in hand, but this song demonstrates the possibility and reward that lies within opening yourself up to love in a way that makes you want to dance your pants off. Beginning with a persistent drumline that mimics a human heartbeat, we are driven forward through a reflection on overcoming lost love and starting again. Singer David Le’aupepe explains the meaning behind his depiction of exercising this love-based muscle, stating, “the more empathy we exercise, the more love we display, the more autonomy we demonstrate, the stronger that muscle becomes,” a line of thinking I aspire to carry into 2018. Is it absolutely terrifying to entertain the idea of exposing yourself, complete yet flawed, to another being? YES. But it’s the exciting kind of terrified feeling that you get as you ascend the peak of a roller coaster, knowing you’re about to get your shit rocked, but that you’re strapped in and cannot turn back. So I encourage and challenge you, to love, anything and everything in 2018, deeply and without restriction. “I haven’t had enough,” and neither should you.
bY tOM bERGAN
“Your friends don’t dance, and if they don’t dance, Well then they’re no friends of mine.”
-Men Without Hats c. 1982
Picture this scenario: a great tune is playing, either at a show or a party, and you have an uncontrollable urge to dance. Dance, in this context, is incredibly broad. Maybe it’s a yearning to tap a foot. Maybe the idea of starting a mosh pit has presented itself. Maybe the idea of simply flailing around in “dance” while not caring seems appealing in that moment. Regardless of the urge, it is repressed, due to the lack of movement of everyone else in that moment.
This universal occurrence is never a fun one to experience. A crossroad is presented, and it seems that neither answer is right. On one hand, one can be ‘too cool’ for movement and restrict themselves to a light head bop while their arms are crossed. On the other, the risk is run at being “intrusive” of others’ space and might garner some elbows or shoves sent in the direction of the individual braving movement.
Heck, I used to be that guy. I did not dance under any circumstance. A phenomenal concert would get no more out of me than an occasional head bop and leg tap. Normally I was, as Arcade Fire too accurately sang, one of the “kids still standing with their arms folded tight.” I couldn’t tell you why, it was just a thing.
Suddenly, sometime around two years ago, my perspective changed. I realized that if an individual is at a show and not dancing, they are not doing that show the right way. It does not matter whether it’s a punk, ska, or indie show, dancing always enhances a concert experience. Even at a show like Julien Baker or S. Carey, where the artist is incredibly somber and introspective, there’s room for a light sway that is still very much dancing.
So, in this new year of 2018, I implore you to simply say “Yes to Dancing.” Say yes to dancing at a party when your bop comes on, because there is absolutely no reason to hold in that urge to bust out a move or two. Say yes to stealing the aux and starting the dance party with an irresistibly catchy tune. Say yes to ignoring the hipsters standing behind you at that show, and go nuts when the band plays “that song” with “that synth line” or “that lyric” that strikes you takes over the moment. No longer should the worry of accidentally stepping on someone’s toes sway the answer to the question “Should I dance like no one is watching in this moment?”
It can be intimidating to dance in public. It may feel as if people’s judgmental eyes come out anytime someone busts a move. Heck, maybe they are, and those people will always be “too cool” to dance. But they don’t know what joys they are missing out on. Simply remember that even if they’re horribly uncoordinated, your dance moves are awesome and will inspire some phenomenal dance circles, interactions with strangers, and stories that you will tell time and time again.
If you do nothing else in the year of 2018, make every attempt to dance your face off. You won’t regret it.
Follow our New Year's Resolution Playlist below for a kickstart to your year of dancing, as well as our instagram at @already.bored for all of the best ~content~.