Kevin Barnes takes the night away with Of Montreal.

No Shortage Of Dancing With Of Montreal, Live!

After a few friends read my 40 concerts article from 2018, a few realized they wanted to go to more shows in 2019.

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One of these friends made sure to bring it to my attention on the Super Bowl in February. Me, being the diligent respondent, looked at a few venues, on the spot, and came across Of Montreal at Lincoln Hall in mid-April. Fast forward two months later; it was the night of our show!

Only a few listens to this band, and there I was on the balcony level at Lincoln Hall for a sold-out show with the Georgia-based five-piece group. Sometimes it is a decent change of pace to go to a concert for a band that you are not necessarily super familiar with when it comes to their library of music. Pardon my ignorance, but I had no idea they were technically around since 1996, with only one residing member since the very beginning, frontman, Kevin Barnes. This person has some serious vocal cords.

Untraditionally, I would also like to point out the opening band for Of Montreal, Yip Deceiver. At one point, I looked at the ground and thought about what this group reminded me of – it was as if A Flock of Seagulls and Thompson Twins had a child – Yip Deceiver. Now, this is no disrespect to the band; this is all meant in a very positive light.

Yip Deceiver is also a Georgia-based band, joining Of Montreal for this Spring 2019 tour, as the night was a specific selection to honor the 30/10 anniversaries of Schuba's (30th) and Lincoln Hall's (10th) years in existence in the Lakeview and Lincoln Park neighborhoods of Chicago. As the title of this review implies, there was no shortage of dancing on stage and amongst the crowd of Lincoln Hall.

With no current set list detail, there is not much to tell you beyond what was a musical journey, with choreography, improvisation, high-pitched vocals, and what I have never seen, an introduction to the lead member of the band. Barnes's brother came on stage after all of the band got in their respective spots, and hopped around in a quasi-skeleton or Spiderman jumpsuit, fully masked, and spoke to the audience on the notion of coming together for music.

Shortly after, Barnes came to stage and delivered an unrelenting, energetic, and funky-groove night that I could not help but keep moving from the band's first song. There was no moment of dead space or lacking surprise. The group brought three dancers at various points, dressed in styles ranging from aliens to blonde women and even Donald Trump impersonators. Their choreography and dancing with Barnes brought such a unique perspective to the show, something not many bands need to include in their performance.

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A Survival Guide For Electric Forest

A list of things to bring, the most important being a positive attitude.
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With summer festival season in full swing, and one of the most talked about festivals only a few days away, I thought I’d feature an article on how to best prepare yourself for a camping festival, specifically Electric Forest. On June 23-26, thousands of people from all over the country will occupy the small town of Rothbury, Michigan. For many, it is their first year and are quite unsure of what to expect. I was not as prepared as I could have been my first year. You can never be too prepared, but you have to experience something yourself to truly know what to expect. I hope these tips offer insight into how to have the best weekend.

Have a good attitude and be flexible. Be open to the fact that things do not always go as planned. Everyone has a special forest experience meant for them and sometimes that includes doing things you did not expect and meeting people you would not have met otherwise.

Live with and love whatever the weather decides to do. At any festival you have to be ready for anything, especially in Michigan where the weather is unpredictable. One minute it can be sunny and hot, next minute there could be a thunderstorm. It is best to bring multiple pairs of shoes, ones you do not care how muddy or dusty they get. Or you could go barefoot. No one really cares how much clothing you have on in the Forest.

Bring clothes that you love (including extra underwear). I suggest pulling the largest duffel bag out of your closet and filling it with all of your favorite clothes. Keep in mind to pack warm clothes, it gets cold at night. Also, do not forget a rain poncho, jacket or suit and boots.

Bring baby wipes. They are good for just about anything. They provide you with an alternative to soap and running water by cleaning off yesterday’s makeup and glitter and scrubbing away a day’s worth of dirt and sweat. Baby wipes, or some other form of wet wipe, is a must.

Reusable water bottles. Bring at least two, if you don’t have a camelback. It is easy to get dehydrated when out in the sun all day and dancing the night away. Staying hydrated is just as important as eating an ample amount of food each day.

Bring an abundance of food so you can avoid paying high prices from vendors; although, you should indulge in Spice Pie pizza at least once while there. The best food to bring is food that can handle being in a cooler for a few days. Foods like eggs, hot dogs, rice and beans, and fruits such as, apples, oranges and bananas and more. A portable grill is a must, as well as a cooler to keep everything fresh. Ice is sold on site.

Bring towels. They serve multiple purposes like using them to sit on the ground or for drenching up sweat.

Wear sunblock and sunglasses or a hat. The sun beats down during the day and you do not want to have a sunburn by the second day.

Bring trash bags to pick up after yourself and keep the campsite clean.

Although you should try to be minimal on paper products, toilet paper, paper towels, tissue and paper plates are all good things to pack.

Bring miscellaneous toiletries like toothpaste and brush, soup, lotion, face wash, baby powder, body spray, deodorant, Q-tips, cotton balls, hairbrush, razor, hair ties, dry shampoo.

Bring a first aid kit, you never know when you may need it. You are exposed to the elements all day, so if you tend to get sick easily, bring your favorite allergy medication and Emergen-C.

Print out a festival map and schedule since they will not have paper copies there and you do not want to have to rely on the app on your phone.

Bring campground essentials. Canopy, folding chairs, table, tapestry, blankets, pillows, tent, canopy, duct tape, sleeping bag, camping pad or cot.

Don't forget flashlights and a lantern. The campgrounds do not provide any sort of lighting.

Bring your hammock to relax. If you do not have one, they are sold there.

Jumper cables are important, too. It is a guarantee that you or someone near you will need to jumpstart a car at some point during the festival, especially if the car charges phones while it is turned off. If you bring jumper cables, then you have nothing to worry about.

Ear plugs for if you need some shut-eye and can still hear bass thumping from faraway stages or your neighbors are up later than you.

Just for fun things like body paint, kandi supplies, selfie stick, LED toys, Frisbee, hoola hoops, glitter, bubbles -- whatever you can think of that you might want to play with there.

Bring spending money for a variety of things, like buying unique items from the vendors.

Don’t forget to fill your tank up with gas before entering the lines to get in. It takes multiple hours to get in before setting up camp, and your car idles the entire time, moving a few feet every couple minutes. Also, you do not want to wait in a long line to fill up your tank at the only gas station when leaving Monday morning.

Don’t forget to have fun! Check out a set you have never heard of before, or take a break from your friends and go explore on your own. Do not be afraid to lose yourself in the forest.

Cover Image Credit: google

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Pharrell Williams Lights Up Napa's BottleRock

"Yezzir."

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If we want to take a pair of binoculars and zoom into one specific moment in my most recent trip to California, then the focus should stay onto BottleRock Napa. While the name itself gives away where this was located, it does not elicit the weather, food, music, and vibes – as we all know, I have a soft spot for music.

Day 2, Saturday (May 25th), included artists such as Sir Sly, Gary Clark Jr., Cypress Hill, Juanes, White Panda, and Pharrell Williams. A music festival in Napa Valley lives up to the perceived expectation – Michelin-star chefs and food vendors, wine galore, liquor, craft beers (IPA heaven), and a beautiful landscape. This is quite a difference from Chicago's Lollapalooza or Milwaukee's Summerfest, which mind you, there is no ill will for those festivals – but BottleRock poses its experience in a league of its own. Such a league includes an older age demographic of attendees, a "one-of-a-kind" location (for the US at least), and the non-festival route musicians — many of which are included above - and that was only Saturday.

As far as shows of the day, Pharrell Williams takes the cheesecake with his "mini-N.E.R.D. reunion" with Shay Haley, amongst his vocal featured classics "Gust of Wind," "Get Lucky," "Drop It Like It's Hot" and plenty more. His singing, even at age 46, came with grace and passion; start to finish, with little to no technical difficulties. The band was incredibly tight, note for note, and the all-female supporting singers and dancers added an element to this show, which I had yet ever to witness. The art and focus on a "performance" could not have been more prevalent in this show.

Pharrell's show is one that goes in the books with the likes of Justin Timberlake, Childish Gambino, The Foo Fighters, The Weeknd, J. Cole, Drake, and Disclosure. It is like the Men's Warehouse saying, "you're going to like the way you look," except Pharrell says, "you're going to like the way you feel, after my show." And that my friends, is a wrap.

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