top shows | 2014 |

2014. The year I made it to 58 shows, 5 festivals + probably a handful more late nights that I may or may not remember well enough to have designated "I Was There" posts. My concert choices this year were smarter, more unique + a few definitely put me outside of my comfort zone (I'm looking at all you weirdo Phish phans). Some were pretty mediocre but more than enough were great. These ten top my year:


27 things i've learned in 27 years

27. No one knows you as well as you know yourself. Know you limits. Accept it if things don't feel right. Step away if you need to. You can't force things to happen when you want them to happen + that is okay. The things that are meant to happen always will.

26. It's a small world after all. Even in a big city like Chicago, I find more often then not that both social + professional circles are actually quite small. Build a reputation that you're proud of.

25. Be thankful for the people in your life. You wouldn't be where you are or who you are without them. Life's a whole lot easier with a good support system.
24. This is the point where you should stop doing things to fit in. If you can't be happy with yourself as you are then you're going to have one long, sad life ahead of you. 

23. Don't settle. Whether it's a not-so-great job or a boy that could probably be treating you a little better,  trust your gut on this one - if it doesn't feel right it probably isn't. You deserve the best.

22. Keep figuring out ways to learn more. Last year I took a terrarium making class + loved it. This year I went to a seminar on the meaning of life + was inspired. I hope next year brings many more opportunities for mental stimulation.

21. Establish your own exceptions. Maybe I should have saved a bit of money over the years by having a roommate, but isn't the freedom of being able to walk around all day in your underwear worth it? You get the picture...

20. Develop your own style. Know your body + know what suits it. If you're unsure, pay someone to tell you. Then, have fun with it. I should know who you are from looking at 5 pieces in your closet.

19. Learn how to navigate yourself. There's not always going to be someone there to hold your hand. And just think of all the opportunities you'll miss just because you have a fear of doing things on your own. You'll be surprised how much you learn about yourself.

18. Stop being a spoiled brat + be thankful for all that your parents have done. I would be no where without my parents. Year after year they have done nothing but love + support me. Chances are, you're in the same boat. Don't forget to call + remind them that you appreciate them.
17. Be a role model. Whether you know it or not, someone probably looks up to you. Your behavior can shape someone else's life, so make sure you're making a positive difference.

16. Stop being a picky eater. People don't like going out with picky eaters + they sure don't like cooking for them. While I can understand one or two off limit ingredients, there's more to life than the top tier of the food pyramid.

15. Write things down + take photos. You're going to appreciate it years from now. Your family will appreciate it even more.
14. Have at least 3 recipes that you can absolutely nail. Not everyone is going to be a great cook, but you should at least have that handful of recipes that don't cause you to freak out every time you get invited to a potluck feast. I'm hoping my handful grows a bit over the next year.

13. Gossiping is no longer cute or acceptable. Just because you were once popular for this trait as a child doesn't mean it's going to stick with you through life. If anything, it will only make others like you less.
12. Don't drop loads of money on the newest trend. Trends are trends for a reason - they don't last. Invest in those classics + go the cheap route on the "hottest" new things.

11. Show a bit of compassion to others that need it. This isn't always the case, but it's usually pretty easy to spot someone that could use a friend or a little bit of encouragement. Going out of the way to say a few nice things or have a short conversation can really make a big impact on someone + it's such a simple thing to do.

10. Now is the time to be selfish. At this point in my life I really don't have many responsibilities other than needing to do well with my career. That leaves an ample amount of extra time to do the things I love, to travel, to pamper myself.

9. Let others form their own opinions. I'm all for being passionate about specific causes or politics, but please don't shove your opinions down my throat. We have brains for a reason + most of us are pretty capable of using them intelligently. Please let me decide what is right for myself.

8. I am an idiot for killing my skin all of those years in tanning beds.If you're vain like me + haven't yet learned this lesson, please know that spray tanning has come a long way since those orange tint jobs. There's absolutely no need to fry yourself in a bed when you can get a nice spray down every couple of weeks.

7. A healthy body means a healthy mind. Each year the correlation between the two seems to grow stronger + stronger. If you're not exercising or eating right you're going to feel like crap, both physically + mentally.

6. Have a hobby. Better yet, have a few. As lame as this sounds, being known as the music junkie by my peers makes me feel really great about myself. Being that "expert" at a specific thing can really improve self esteem + it's an easy way to form bonds with new people.
5. Pay off your debts. I'm really embarrassed to admit this, but I was incredibly reckless with my money (or the money I didn't have) when I was 23 + 24. I kept thinking that more was just on the horizon + I also probably spent more than I needed to to try to fit in with certain types of people. It was stupid, but a lesson. I will never let myself get that careless again. It's such a huge burden that weighs over you for so long.

4. Sleeping in past noon is no longer acceptable. A cruel reality, but true. Sleep is important though, so just cut down on the number of all night ragers.

3. You have to work at friendships, especially as you get older. I'm really pretty awful at this one, especially with so many good friends living in different cities. I've never really been much of a phone person which makes this process that much harder for me. Sometimes all it takes is just little things to show that a person has a special place in your life.

2. Mind your f'ing manners. Maybe it's all of the years I spent as a waitress, but it honestly blows my mind how rude people can be to those working in the customer service industry. Be appreciative of their help. Not only are you making an ass out of yourself, but you're also embarrassing the people you are with.
1. Be prepared to laugh at yourself. You're human, mistakes will happen. The best recovery is a good giggle + others will appreciate you all the more for it.


i was there || st. vincent + future islands

Show: St. Vincent
Future Islands

Location: Chicago Theater

Date: 12.2.14

Favorite Song: One of the most beautiful pieces of music I have ever heard was St. Vincent's intro to "Your Lips Are Red." That was some goose-bumpy music. I've done a little research + it seems to be somewhat of a rare occurrence. I could be wrong on that but it's so damn pretty regardless. You can hear a variation of it HERE. "Cheerleader" was also a standout from St. Vincent's set while "Dream Of Me + You" was my favorite from Future Islands.

Memorable Moment: I would put Annie Clark in the same category as Bjork, J Law, + Nicki Minage. All cool ass chicks that make me proud to be a woman. Annie is so damn cool + I was not prepared for that. I'm pretty sure that I made a vow to myself that night that if I ever have a little girl of my own she's sure as hell going to have a guitar in her hands before she can take her first steps.

Biggest Letdown: Very little to complain about. Maybe the venue? Chicago Theater wasn't bad per-se I just selfishly would like to see them both somewhere smaller with general admission.

This Show: was limber. I'm pretty sure Annie Clark might be a robot with her perfectly timed + almost machine-like movements. And when she crossed guitars with her chick bandmate? Damn. I'm also pretty sure that Samuel Herring of Future Islands is secretly Gumby. Seriously, though. How does that guy move like that? I have mostly ignored Future Islands in this post so far which is entirely unfair because their set was phenomenal too. St. Vincent + Future Islands both fall into my top shows of 2014. No question.


mostly naughty but a little bit nice

Time for the annual wish list. I make decent progress each year but there are a few items that seem to be on my list every year. Will this be the year I spoil myself? I sure hope so!

Record Player
This one is on my list again. Every damn year. In my defense, I did buy myself one this year but I had to return it. I have almost 100 albums yet nothing to listen to them on. It's quite ridiculous but this is 100% the year I cross this off.

Disco Ball
$50.00 or more
Yep, still want this. Same rules apply -- must be 20 inches at least or it's unacceptable.

Gypsy Water Eau de Parfum
I'm running low one my current scents + this is at the top of my list. It's a bit pricey for something as unexciting as perfume but I use so little it is bound to last for a while

Ace of Swords Necklace
Sadly, I won't look as cool at this chick wearing her Ace of Swords necklace from Bloody Mary Metal but I still want it. I tend to wear more gold lately so I want to make sure that when I wear silver it is a statement.

Vintage Rugs
I'm kind of obsessed with rugs. The problem is that they are pricey. I bought my ever so popular Souk rugs from West Elm three years ago but the luster has worn off + it's looking a little worn in. I'd love to move it to my bedroom + replace it with a more unique and colorful option.

A Critter
My entire life I have loved animals. It's a little silly that I just don't have one but I want a dog + right now I don't think I am home enough to be a good owner. So I've explored other options -- smoosh-faced kittens, chinchillas, + my latest obsession,  hedgehogs. They only live for a few years + appear to be really low maintenance. They are the most snuggly but I think a hedgehog could suppress my puppy cravings for a couple of years.



When I think about my dream home it looks a little something like this but with an updated kitchen + baths + probably some more closet space. But for $4,000/mo this 1,800 sq ft three bedroom, two bath rental near Brooklyn could be yours as is.

I'm a total sucker for exposed bricks + wood beam ceilings. Quite honestly, a place like this in Chicago isn't totally out of the question either if only I had a little bit thicker of a wallet. The West Loop has quite a few spaces like this with the character I love. I would pretty much die + go to heaven if I could have a place like this for my own.


dude decor

There have been a few occasions where guys have asked me for my help with decorating their homes. I feel pretty confident that I have good taste + that my apartment is put together well but I have never really thought about decorating a more masculine space. My home isn't overly girly but what are the alternatives when you are not decorating with fur + vases full of flowers? I was a bit stumped but turned to my trusty sources for some inspiration that would make any man feel at home.

1 | 2 | 3 | 45 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9

Tips On Decorating Like A Man

1. Use Masculine Materials. Think metal, wood, leather, plaid, + concrete

2. Keep the Colors Neutral. Use a mix of black + white as well as colors that sway on the dark side

3. Showcase Your Hobbies. Whether its sports, travel, or music we want to know what you enjoy. Display what you like to do in your free time with photos, books, + knick knacks

4. Increase Your Chances of Getting Laid. At the very least you should always have extra toilet paper, clean towels, throw blankets (because chicks are always cold), + sheets, blankets, + extra pillows on your bed. Bonus points if you have plants, family photos, + mirrors.

Manly Starter Items
(That chicks like too)
1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

Where To Shop

Unlike me, you probably aren't willing to spend much money on decor. A few places to get started are: Ikea (for good linens), Roy's furniture, CB2, Craigslist (wood/metal items only. Fabric items are too creepy), Etsy (for unique items you can't get anywhere else).


i was there || fka twigs

Show: FKA Twigs

Location: Metro

Date: 11.13.14

Favorite Song: "Numbers" had my favorite vocals while "Video Girl" had the best beat. All of the songs stacked up pretty well against one another though.

Memorable Moment: FKA Twigs is so stinking adorable. When she's speaking to the crowd she has this shy little bird voice but when she performs she just unleashes. I appreciate strong female artists + she exuded confidence on stage.

Biggest Letdown: Such a small thing but I didn't really love her stage visuals. Too much fog + not the best lighting were less than impressive.

This Show: Was just what I needed. The past few shows I have seen have been a little bit of a letdown. I knew FKA Twigs would at the very least be unique but I enjoyed in much more than I expected, in part, due to Tahliah's stage presence. I love the way she moves her body + her vocals are pretty amazing. I also like concerts where three of the four members on stage are banging sticks against drums.


i was there || st. lucia

Show: St. Lucia

Location: Metro

Date: 11.10.14

Favorite Song: I'm not familiar enough with their music but there was this very bedroom-y, baby making song that stood out.

Memorable Moment: The lead singer had a very strategically placed face directly in front of him that made his hair blow every so gently in the air. It was pretty ridiculous + distracting but also fairly hilarious.

Biggest Letdown: I need to stop factoring the crowds into my opinions but they shape my experience + ultimately shape my views of the band. The sold out Metro was crowded + filled with young, rambunctious adults. I realize I am sadly getting to the point where I can feel a bit old at shows. I was just barely on the cusp for this one. The crowd wasn't totally awful, they just talked a bit + seemed totally restless + moved through the crowd + back quite a bit. Essentially, they were a distraction from what was going on on stage which made it harder to enjoy the music.

This Show: St. Lucia sounds like a band, looks like a band, + has the theatrics of a band. They were fine + did sound fairly similar live as they do on their albums. My biggest issue is that they just sound like so many other bands out there. I may be wrong here but I just don't think they will be memorable 5-10 years down the line.


broken social scene || sweetest kill

This song is old news, but sometimes songs are meant to come back into your life at certain times. Broken Social Scene has been on heavy rotation for me recently.


concert outlook || winter 2014-2015

11.7 | Aeroplane | Primary
11.8 | Holy Ghost | Smart Bar
11.10-11.11 | St. Lucia | Metro
11.12 | Interpol | The Riviera
11.13 | Avi Buffalo | Empty Bottle
11.13 | FKA Twigs | Metro
11.13 | Ryan Hemsworth | Double Door
11.14 | J Phlip | Spy Bar
11.14 | Wildcat! Wildcat! | Schubas
11.15 | Joy Orbison + Ben UFO | Spy Bar
11.16 | Nils Frahm | Thalia Hall
11.21 | Jacques Greene | Bottom Lounge
11.22-11.23 | Fitz + the Tantrums | The Riviera
11.25 | Death From Above 1979 | The Riviera
11.28 | Benoit & Sergio + Steve Bug | Metro
11.29 | Lee Foss + Lee Curtiss | Spy Bar
12.2 | St. Vincent + Future Islands | Chicago Theater
12.5 | Les Sins | Smart Bar
12.5-12.12 | Wilco | The Riviera
1.15 | Kishi Bashi | Schubas
1.16 | Zola Jesus | Athenaeum Theater
1.16 | Cloud Nothings | Metro
2.17 | Ariel Pink | Thalia Hall
3.11 | Kindness | Lincoln Hall
3.14 | Sylvan Esso | Metro
3.18 | Cursive | Lincoln Hall
4.3 | OK GO | Metro
4.3 | Father John Misty | The Vic
4.10 | Twin Shadow | Metro


where the dear + the buffalo roam

I have been a fan of Sharon Montrose for a while now + never cease to be amazed by the new work she puts out. I also love to see the beautiful homes that her work is featured in. This makeover is no exception.


i was there || rhye

Show: Rhye

Location: The Vic

Date: 10.25.14

Favorite Song: My two favorites were songs that I wasn't super familiar with. "Last Dance" was a bit more funky than the others + the organ definitely added an interesting component to the song. Once I started hearing the organ I couldn't stop. I also enjoyed the last song but I don't know what it was called.

Memorable Moment: There was that time they did the thing that I like to refer to as "synchronized fancy claps." And also the "tandem fluffy drumming." The most memorable (for the band as well) was when the violinist broke not one but two strings on his violin. Talk about hardcore.

Biggest Letdown: Rhye admittedly said they were going to bring us up + then bring us down which they 100% did. Overall, this was a good strategy but some of the lows were bordering a bit on boring. Not totally, but almost. But that is what you get when you attend a seated concert at a venue without seats.

This Show: Was surprisingly exciting + full of surprises. To be honest, I am a little wary of men that sound more feminine than me but Rhye pulled it out. This show could have very easily been boring but it was anything but.


i was there || sbtrkt


Location: The Riviera

Date: 10.23.14

Favorite Song: Chicago was the lucky guinea pig + got to hear the the LIVE version of his already awesome remix of Radiohead's "Lotus Flower." Those extra little live components really went a long way.

Memorable Moment: Having your back on a crowd is typically frowned upon but in this instance it was actually kind of cool. SBTRKT had some of his equipment behind him so for parts of the show you actually got to see him work his magic. Also, these shows are a total must for percussion lovers + I just happen to fall into that category.

Biggest Letdown: It is unfortunate that so much of the vocals are recording + poor quality at that. I'm not sure if the blame for that falls on the The Riviera's sound system or SBTRKT himself but the first couple songs started pretty rough. I did appreciate him doing some of the vocals on "New Dorp. New York." though.

This Show: I'll start off by saying this was an all around weird night. There must have been a full moon or something so I partially blame that too. This show was odd. The openers were weird. The crowd was sparse, but okay. Some songs worked + some songs didn't. Namely, SBTRKT, the 2011 self-titled album worked + the newly released Wonder Where We Land did not. I'll start off by saying that I do very much like Wonder Where We Land even though many people have met it with mixed reviews. My favorite songs from that album translated horribly live + the one track I don't really love ("New Dorp. New York.") was actually the best live. His old stuff truly shined this night + I am sure that's why the songs from that album were predominantly featured. Overall, good show. SBTRKT is a unique experience + totally worth seeing.


a bohemian abode

Last week Victoria at SFGirlByBay shared the loveliest home of photographer Anna Malmberg. She live in Paris + Stockholm with her fiance + son. This is her Paris home + it is my dream. It is easy + carefree but looks so nice.