Sunday, July 24, 2011

Top 5 Performance Moments

Concerts. Plays. Large venues. Small venues. Day. Night.

I love going to shows of all kinds and witnessing the gifts that so many people have been given. Ever since my first concert, when my mom brought me to see Neil Diamond, I have had an appreciation for music, for the arts- for talent.

Some highlights:
Most random: Weird Al Yankovic
Most rebellious: Skipping a day of high school to see Mariah Carey at the Mall of America
Best concert I was dragged to: Justin Timberlake & Christina Aguilera
Most sweaty: Various Warped Tours
Most ridiculous (almost): Bought tickets to Raffi, but friends bailed, so gave them up to mom's friends to bring their kids.
Most people on stage singing a Beatles song: Unknown order show- 4 bands (15-20 people) on stage singing "Hey Jude"
Most irritating: Bowling for Soup talking about nothing for 10-15 mins between each song.
First musical I was obsessed with: Starlight Express
Favorite song from a musical: "Endless Night" from The Lion King
Favorite cover performance: "In Your Eyes" performed by Jared Mahone

So many times, there are those moments that stick with you - that transcend the performance itself and become something bigger. Those "you had to be there" moments that when you see it, you feel lucky that you were able to witness. Here is my list of my top 5 favorite moments from any performance.

Honorable Mention 1: Roster McCabe live in studio.
In undergrad, my amazing friend Tanya and I had a radio show on our campus radio station. For the most part, it was pretty general - play some songs we like, talk about songs, bands, shows, music, life, and all around randomness. We weren't going to win any Peabody Awards or anything like that, but we had an absolute blast. Some of the coolest days were when we were able to bring live bands into the studio (the only show that attempted this) for performances. Tanya went to high school with the lead singer of Roster McCabe, so she got half of the River Falls campus to become obsessed with them. She pulled some strings, and was able to get the boys to come in and do an acoustic performance for our listeners. In the words of Jeff Parker, which were repeated about 6 times during their time in the studio: "Uhh-mazing!"

Honorable Mention 2: Goo Goo Dolls
My favorite band of all time is the Goo Goo Dolls- the first time I saw them was in high school when they performed at the Minnesota State Fair. The show was great! And that is when they solidified themselves as my favorite. But the best part came at the very end. Their encore consisted of them singing "I Want You to Want Me." And just about for the entire song, confetti was being launched into the crowd. So much energy, and a great finale to an unforgettable show.

5. Elton John
One of my "Bucket List" shows, and it finally happened in 2010. All I need to say is 10 minute piano solo in the middle of "Rocket Man." Self-explanatory. Unbelievable.

4. Anthony Rapp & Adam Pascal
I saw RENT for the first time when it was on tour in St. Paul. Not going to lie, I wasn't that impressed. It was good, but after falling in love with the movie, the play was a let down. Then, the announcement came that it was closing on Broadway, and Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal, two of the original cast members, were going on the farewell tour of sorts. So I decided to go again. The two of them made the entire show. You could see the chemistry and the power that only the two of them possess. They were born to play Mark and Roger. And when they sang "What You Own," a song that features the two of them, that's when you could see the magic.

3. Naturally 7
Naturally 7 came into my life during the NACA Northern Plains regional conference in 2006. At these conferences, bands, comedians, magicians, singer/songwriters, and performers of all kinds have a showcase, where they get about 15 minutes to dazzle the crowd of college students, hoping to be booked at their schools. N7's showcase was, without exaggeration, easily one of the best performances I have ever seen (if not the best). Their style of a capella, which they call Vocal Play, is unlike anything you will ever hear. I am so glad they are starting to gain some international attention, thanks in part to Michael Buble, because everyone needs to know who they are.

2. Idina Menzel
For the whole story, read this post. But this night was one of those moments- being in the mountains. Being in a place as beautiful as Red Rocks. The sun setting. The orchestra. Idina's powerful voice. When she sang a slow, soulful version of "Finale B" from RENT, and had the entire crowd singing those powerful words, "No Day But Today," you couldn't help but get chills.

1. American Idiot
My favorite performance moment came on an epic adventure to NYC with my friend Rose. We lucked, or I suppose "friendshipped" our way into getting tickets to see American Idiot, the Broadway show that features all Green Day music. I reluctantly decided to go along with it, and I am so glad she talked me into it! The show was great- not a whole lot of plot, but the music is GREAT!! (and I only like GD a little bit). By the end, the story wraps up nicely, and leaves the audience moved. But the most unbelievable moment is the encore. The curtain lifts up, and all of the cast members are on stage with acoustic guitars, and they all start singing "Time of Your Life (Good Riddance)." On the night we saw it, it was the last show for one of the cast members. So they sang it to him. 19 amazingly talented people singing their hearts out, dedicating one of the most heartwarming songs ever created, and saying goodbye to their friend. It was simply... perfect.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

New Altitude, New Attitude

When it comes to my running, over the past few months I have had my ups and downs.

I have had my bad stretches, dealt with heat, with soreness, laziness, and struggled through runs.

I have had great stretches, setting PR's, running longer distances, and feeling healthier than I have in a long time.

Then I moved to Denver.

I was stubborn, and thought that the altitude wouldn't really affect me. I was wrong. 2 weeks later, I'm still huffing and puffing more, but I'm getting there.

More than that, I have found myself getting frustrated. Since the move, I have basically had to start from scratch. The first run, I hit 1.25 and couldn't do any more. Slowly but surely, that has increased. I have still been obsessed with my time though, and beating myself up when I can't keep my speed up. 9 something miles have transformed to 12 somethings, or 11 somethings, and that gets disheartening. As much as I love the elevation and the mountains, they're killing my confidence!

Last weekend, I ran with some people that helped me change my perspective. I don't know if I'd call it an epiphany, but something definitely clicked. I had a great conversation about my need to get over myself and my competitiveness. My frustration has led to lack of motivation. Lack of motivation has led to lack of results.

So I tried something new. For the first time since December, I did not time my run. I just went. Didn't care about speed, or pace, or time. Just me, my music, and the pavement. And you know what? It worked. I know it was slow, but it was almost a half mile farther than I have made it since I've been here, and I could have kept going if I pushed, and didn't have to go to work. And I wasn't frustrated. I felt good!

So I think this new revelation is one to stay. Forget the things that cause the negative. Leave it all behind. And once again, focus on the love for working out. For being outdoors.

For running.

"Today I will do what others won’t, So tomorrow I can do what others can’t"

Monday, July 18, 2011


First concert at Red Rocks. Idina Menzel. What an unbelievable night. Probably the best concert I have ever been to in my life. And I'm only slightly embarrassed to admit that.

From the instant Marvin Hamlisch took the stage, I knew it was going to be memorable night. From the first note, I knew that this show wasn't going to be like any other that I've seen in my life. Before Idina took the stage, Marvin conducted a few songs, then told the crowd about how he writes songs. He starts with a title, because, as he said, if you have a good title, the music will write itself. He said he would prove it, so asked for someone from the crowd to shout out a title on the spot.

"Live at Red Rocks!!"
[Sarcastic Marvin Hamlisch]: "Wow... how long have you been working on that one?"

And so begins Marvin Hamlisch and Idina Menzel comedy hour.

(Insert 3 minute song about his wife wanting to go on vacation, maybe Paris? No... New York? No... There's only one place I want to be... Live at Red Rocks!)

After a break, Idina Menzel took the stage. In case you don't know her, shame on you. Maureen from RENT. She played Lea Michele's mom in Glee. Oh yea... she was also in Wicked.

[Audience goes nuts when she mentions Wicked] "Oh, you saw that? I was the green one!"

Note: After I first wrote this, I found some youtube videos, so they are the following links- so if you have time, they're great!

The whole concert was amazing. As the sun sets at Red Rocks, the place becomes instantly magical. Combine that with the sounds of the orchestra, and it leaves you breathless (and not just from the altitude). Idina's powerful voice was the icing on the cake, and that left the crowd in awe.

She sang songs from RENT, from Wicked (sometimes forgetting the words- oops!), from Glee, Broadway standards, as well as songs that meant so much to her. She even threw in a John Denver medley, which included a "Rocky Mountain High" special for the Colorado crowd.

She shared stories from her childhood, how her mom would always request two songs: "The Way We Were" (written by Marvin Hamlisch, so that made it even cooler), and "Tomorrow" from Annie. She told funny stories about how she played at a Barbara Streisand tribute, and Beyonce got to steal her song by performing "The Way We Were" ("Bitch!") and how Barbara didn't know she was the one who sang when they met later. She made fun of the lyrics from Poker Face as she sang it (her hit performance from Glee), also asking how that song could ever portray a mother/daughter reunion moment, and apologizing for making people who went to Juilliard play such garbage.

She told moving stories about her life during RENT, and how meeting Jonathan Larson and the magical experience he created, and how the experience changed her life (she even got a husband out of it). She shared how ever since she started playing with orchestras, her manager had always told her, and it's been her dream to play in "this amazing place in Colorado that's like nowhere else in the world." She ended the night, almost in tears, dedicating the show to her family (many of which live in Boulder, so they were front row) and Taye Diggs, who was there on dad duty, but did not make an appearance.

The most special part, aside from Idina twirling around on stage in her bright yellow dress and barefoot, wishing she had orange juice (which, don't worry... she got), was hearing her tell the audience, and her family, how much this night meant to her. And there, in the still of the night, with the beautiful rocks surrounding us, you could genuinely tell just how true that statement was. There was nothing but magic, power, and love in the air.

As she dedicated the last song to her mom, and ended with a soulful version of "Tomorrow," everyone was left with this amazing feeling, after spending the entire night laughing, being inspired, and being moved beyond words.

A glimpse...
(Sorry for the video quality, but I was definitely not watching where I was filming...)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Do Life

Once in a while, you come across something that truly speaks to you. That inspires you. That motivates you.

One of those moments for me was about six months ago when I came across this video

Some of you know my history with weight- about the roller coaster over the years. About how a year ago, I found myself at the heaviest I have ever been, even after (a life time ago) I promised myself I would never let myself get back there.

So as I started running again, started dropping weight again, and started to get control of my life again, I stumbled across Ben's story. It couldn't have come at a better time.

For me, stories like these are inspiring, because everyone knows how miserable the journey is. I need to be reminded of why I should keep pushing. Keep fighting. I need a reminder that something better lies on the other side.

Fast forward.

A couple months ago, Ben announced he was traveling the country for the first inaugural Do Life Tour, where people could come run, walk, bike, slither, and frolic their way to a 5K, all sharing in the simple yet profound moment.

I was scanning the stops, but had no idea where I would be come June/July. Marked the calendar for the Minneapolis date just in case I was still home. Luckily, I got a job in Denver. Luckily, the Do Life Tour was making a stop a week & a half later.

Running has been tough since I got to Denver. I'm blaming the altitude. I've found myself huffing and puffing after short distances, and getting light headed when I push myself too hard. So I need to chill out for a bit, and take baby steps.

This day was no different. My 5K consisted of lots of running, lots of walking, but more importantly, lots of great conversations- during the run (big step for me on a normal day, even bigger when I'm wheezing my way through Denver) and after.

I met an awesome group of girls who have a great mentality and keep pushing themselves. I don't know if they'll get me on the Tumblr bandwagon, but I hope to keep in touch and have them as great motivators. They were super awesome. And had cool shoes.

I met a man and his wife who finally got through to me to get over myself. Because of my competitiveness, I am always in my head and comparing myself to others - most of which are clearly more athletic and faster than me. I need to take a step back and focus on myself- and focus on what I can do as opposed to what I can't. I am finally starting to listen.

I met several others who offered great tips and encouragement. I have always firmly believed surrounding yourself with people better than you to raise your level. But I realized, what's more important than that, is regardless of the level, is surrounding yourself with people who want to be better. Who aspire. Who lift up those around them.

Through this day, I met a great group of people who are all at different fitness levels, have different goals, yet connect on an amazing level. Because no matter what, we are all looking to make our lives a little bit better - one step at a time.

Thanks to Ben for making it happen. Read his blog. It's inspiring.

I've even lost 5 more lbs. since I got to Denver a week and a half ago. That makes 34 total. Still a long way to go.

How did you do life today?

Friday, July 15, 2011


A perfect Friday night.

An amber glow filling the sky.

The sun taking its rest behind the mountains.

The Rockies making sure the home town fans leave happy.

Life is beautiful.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

1 Week

Tonight marks the one week point for living in my new home of Denver.

Already in that time, I have done some unforgettable things, and met some amazing people.

Already in that time, I have found some of the things that have been missing for a while.

Everything oozes with excitement-

The new people that are coming into my life.

The things that I can discover.

The experiences that I can have.

The legacy that I can leave.

Everything about this place screams potential.

All that's left is for me to make it happen.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

In Your Eyes

And when I opened my eyes I found myself standing before a mirror
Staring into the eyes of an invisible man until my pupils became pupils
And I could teach myself to live a better life.

Sunday, July 3, 2011


I went to my first Twins game at Target Field last night.

Such a beautiful stadium.

And I can't think of a better way to spend a July night - sitting in the stands, enjoying the breeze, hanging out with 41,000 of your closest friends, watching the Twins jump out to a 7-0 lead...

...then give it up and blow it in the 9th.

Oh well, a great game and a great night!