A Brief History of Everything

It was a hot 4th of July in Chicago when I discovered the Counting Crows for the first time. I wandered into their show at Grant Park mid-set, and I remember standing in the back, completely entranced. The next day, I raced to Sam Goody's (I miss you, early 2000s) and bought every Counting Crows album I could find. 

The Counting Crows have been the soundtrack, both literally and figuratively, to the first time I fell in love and the last (Adam himself introduced me to my now-husband). My sleepless college years of playing "Up All Night" repeatedly. Moving to Nashville with a suitcase in my hand. Starting over again in New Orleans with $100 in my bank account and curiosity about Mardi Gras. 

I didn't discover the Crows music when it was brand new (I was 5 when August was released and presumably rocking out to Barney), but it was intoxicatingly fresh to me as a teenager, shaping the way I'd consume and digest music permanently. 

Last Monday, the Counting Crows played The Forum on their A Brief History of Everything Tour, and looking around, I realized I wasn't the only one who relates so much of their own history with this iconic band. 

A girl two rows in front of me had tears pouring down her face during "Long December." The crowd sang "Rain King" with such a force, I was pretty sure precipitation was going to start falling from the arena ceiling. And during "Round Here," even though I've heard it more than a dozen times live, I had goosebumps up and down my arms. 

They always say, you can't know where you're going unless you know where you've been. And last Monday night, a crowd of thousands revisited where we had been- maybe the night we had blared "Miami" as we shut it down in New Orleans or the time when "Hard Candy" became one summer's soundtrack.

The band's History tour feels like a celebration, much in the vein of a birthday. They're another year older and it's a commemoration of who they've become over the years. Adam's voice and passion is stronger than ever, drawing you in with his trademark raw honesty that weaves in and out of his lyrics. In that dark arena, I felt moved the same way I did when I stopped in 100 degree day in Chicago. I may not have known who they were then, but they always sounded like they knew me. 

If you have the chance, don't miss out on seeing the Counting Crows play one hell of a show on the A Brief History of Everything tour.

The Search and a Brief History of Everything....

Last weekend was a musical double header for me. On Sunday night, I caught John Mayer's "The Search for Everything" tour and Monday night, I headed back to the Forum to see the Counting Crows/Matchbox Twenty's "A Brief History of Everything" tour. 

They always say you need to know where you've been to know where you're going, so maybe I should have checked out "History" before beginning my "Search," but alas- I digress. 

John Mayer's "The Search for Everything World Tour" 

I have spent the last decade drowning in John Mayer's albums. He has provided the perfect soundtrack for this twenty-something, particularly during his Heartbreak Warfare album cycle. If I wailed "Perfectly Lonely" once, I murdered it 1,000 times alone in my car. 

So when he announced the 2017 tour, my first phone call was to my best friend Rachel (pictured below from a 2010 JM concert), a fellow Mayer addict. We flew to Philadelphia to catch a show on the first leg of the tour and then scooped up tickets to his Los Angeles show soon thereafter. 

 Proof that our love only grows fonder over the years- this was at John Mayer's infamous Nashville show in 2010, where he apologized for the Playboy interview.

Proof that our love only grows fonder over the years- this was at John Mayer's infamous Nashville show in 2010, where he apologized for the Playboy interview.

But this was no normal show. We were going to get to meet John Mayer. Oh, and sit front row. We imagined all the things that could go wrong before the show- one of us could get hit by a bus, come down with the flu or her flight could get cancelled due to weather/flocks of birds in the engine. 

Luck was on our side, though, and we rode to the Forum in an Uber singing rewritten lyrics, "It's a Sunday, we finally made it, we can't believe we get to see your face," presumably to the invisible Mayer seated between us. 

A blurry two hours later, there he was, standing in front of us in the softest sweatshirt imaginable. We were alone with him, besides a photographer and a couple of tour personnel - they have other Meet & Greet fans stand outside the room to allow for a little more privacy- and he was....incredibly sweet. 

For a career musician who is arguably one of the most respected guitarists and lyricists in music today, his demeanor was gracious and genuine, with not a trace of arrogance or aloofness.  

So after chatting with John Mayer about Stranger Things (casual, I know), we headed to our front row dead center seats to begin the best musical experience of my life. 

John Mayer left it all on stage for nearly two hours, dividing up the night between full band, acoustic and the Trio. He kicked off the set with "Helpless," segueing into fan favorite "Why Georgia." The set was peppered with "classic" John Mayer, like "Slow Dancing," "Vultures," and "Gravity," alongside songs off the new Search for Everything record. 

Post Malone and Tommy Lee even made a surprise appearance for a collaboration on Post's "Congratulations," which has officially made its way onto my summer playlist. 

Whether it's his time on the road with Dead & Company or simply the benefit of growing older, he seems more comfortable than ever showing off his roots as a blues guitarist. For the duration of the show, I became a little kid at Disney World, with eyes big as saucers and my heart strings played by the electric guitar. It's one thing to listen to John Mayer, but it takes it to another level to watch up close as he shred on the guitar. 

I floated home that night, pretty sure that my search for everything may never be over, but it was nights like Sunday night that make the journey pretty damn worth it.  

A Lesson in How to Be the Best Kind of Rockstar

Last night, I did the unthinkable: I braved 5 o'clock Los Angeles traffic to drive down to the Orange County Fair, all in the name of Gavin Degraw

 OC Fair, July 26, 2017

I've been lucky enough to catch his shows more than a few times- on tour with Shania Twain, the Grammy's after party this year, the Greek Theatre last summer- and he consistently puts on one of the best shows in the music industry. 

I could go on for hours about Gavin's bluesy vocals, his bright energy that bubbles over from the stage or the adorable way he dances to "Best I Ever Had." I might even mention his superhero capability of surviving a Southern California night on stage in a leather jacket. (Seriously, though- how?)

But the thing I find most worth mentioning from the evening was Gavin's behavior after the lights went down, when the crowd was steadily exiting the venue. 

You know when artists are new, and they're still earning your affections? They offer meet and greets at the merch table after the show, they answer your tweets, they listen post-show to your stories about what their music means to you. They put in the time, because that's what it takes to build a fan base. 

When artists hit it big, everything tends to change. Schedules and security are tighter, and the musician is being pulled in multiple directions.

Over the last few years, I've covered hundred of shows, ranging from stadium shows to intimate venues, but riddle me impressed- I witnessed something truly unique last night. 

The last song of the encore, I Don't Want to Be, finished to uproarious applause. As Gavin took his final bow with his bandmates, I expected him to exit stage left immediately. I would be wrong. 

Gavin did head stage left....but to begin a long line of signing autographs and taking selfies with fans that clamored to get near. And it wasn't just an artist snapping mindless photos- he was shaking hands, thanking them genuinely for coming to the show (eye contact and all!), asking about their lives and...wait for it...listening intently. He didn't rush anyone, he never gave the "save me" look to his manager, who would make up an excuse to hurry him off.

At one point, he just sat down on the edge of the stage and talked to the large group of fans gathered. It was all so casual- just Gavin Degraw, an artist who can sell out amphitheaters, hanging out. Fans openly shared stories of survival through his music, and he seemingly took it all to heart. 

All in all, he took his time for about a half hour, and even when he had to leave, yelled out to the remaining fans, "I love you!" 

And you know what? I believe him. 

Just a week ago today, we lost Chester Bennington to suicide. And earlier this summer, we lost Chris Cornell. Kindness is exactly what this world needs right now, and last night, I witnessed the truest form of it. Not only did I leave moved by the music, but I left inspired by Gavin's actions. 

So I guess what I'm getting at is....Gavin Degraw is not only a bad ass who doesn't pass out from wearing leather in July- he's also the nicest freakin' guy....probably ever. 

KAABOO Highlights...So Far

How do you begin to describe a couple of days packed with artists like Aerosmith, Lenny Kravitz, Fall Out Boy, Gavin Degraw, Flo Rida, Grouplove, Goo Goo Dolls, Echosmith and comedians like Vanessa Bayer, Sarah Silverman and Taylor Williamson? One word: incredible. Or in another word: KAABOO.

We could leave it at that, but here's a few of our highlights: 

 The Chainsmokers performing on Saturday, September 17 at KAABOO on the Grandview Stage.

The Chainsmokers performing on Saturday, September 17 at KAABOO on the Grandview Stage.

1.) The Chainsmokers

It's been a hot year for DJ/producer duo, scoring their first #1 with Halsey for song of the summer "Closer," performing at the MTV Awards and teasing a new collaboration with Coldplay's Chris Martin. The result? A mammoth-sized dancing crowd for their high-energy set at KAABOO. Quite honestly, I've never been a huge fan of dance/electronic music (blame it on the fact that I can't dance, maybe), but last night changed my mind. The energy was infectious, and the visuals were mind-blowing. The Chainsmokers are the kind of act that feel as important to modern music as The Weeknd, because they are defying rules and boundaries to create something new, sonically stunning and influencing the rest of the industry. 

 Taylor Williamson performed on Saturday, September 17 on the Humor Me stage at KAABOO.

Taylor Williamson performed on Saturday, September 17 on the Humor Me stage at KAABOO.

2.) Taylor Williamson

Performing a comedy set at 12:15 pm on a Saturday morning can't be an easy task. The crowd is still waking up from the night before, you're essentially the first performer of the day, and alcohol isn't creating that natural comedic lubrication yet. None of that mattered when America's Got Talent runner-up and Del Mar native, Taylor Williamson, got on stage. At times, it was hard to hear Taylor over the roaring laughter from the crowd. He's quirky, adorable and oh-so-lovable in every way. His set was a mixture of jokes that America fell in love with while he was on AGT and new material that was en pointe. 

 The Goo Goo Dolls performed on the Trestles Stage on Saturday, September 17 at KAABOO.

The Goo Goo Dolls performed on the Trestles Stage on Saturday, September 17 at KAABOO.

3.) Goo Goo Dolls

The Goo Goo Dolls have been a band since before I was born, and yet last night, they put on a show with the energy of a band that's at the height of their career. And I guess in some ways, the Goo Goo Dolls have been on a high since "Iris" hit the airwaves in 1998, winning the band multiple Grammys and forever cementing their place in rock history. The crowd for the Goo Goo Dolls went as far as the eye can see, with thousands of people packed in to catch a beloved band. Musically, the band was incredibly tight, and lead singer Johnny Rzeznik never fails to put on an entertaining show filled with vocals that never tire.