Blog Miscellaneous Non-Music News

North Carolina Renaissance Festival

The North Carolina Renaissance Festival is an annual event located near Charlotte that is open every weekend through October and November.

The festival features elaborate costumes, acrobatic performances, jousting, immersive scenery, fortune telling, fall foods and treats, along with handcrafted art and goods. The event provides a great fall atmosphere and lovely little escape from daily life.

In my experience, Renaissance Festival has something for everyone. It is extremely family friendly while appealing to more mature audiences with a large variety of shows and activities.

For the past few years, Renaissance Festival has been such a staple fall activity. I have been attending Ren Fest since 2016 and I was happy to be in attendance again this past weekend.

To summarize my experience and highlight my favorite events, I have outlined my three favorite things about Renaissance Festival. If you want to find more that the festival has to offer or want to purchase tickets you can do so at the Carolina Renaissance Festival website.

Renaissance Garb

If you enjoy or have an interest in costuming, this is the event for you. It is amazing to see the large variety of costumes and outfits at the Faire. I have seen pirates, knights, fairies, steampunk outfits, dungeon and dragon characters, jesters, vikings, beautiful dresses and the list can go on.

Every year I look forward to making a new outfit, and each year I try to do something drastically different from the year before.

Costumes are a great way to both express yourself and step out of your normal persona. I find a lot of joy in wearing clothes that are typically out of the norm– but at Ren Fest the abnormality is encouraged. The sense of community surrounding costuming at the festival is contagious.

As an example, one of my friends decided to dress up as a jester this year. He had a vibrant, jingling jester hat and neon green garb. His costume instantly brought him into the environment. Shopkeepers and complete strangers at the festival would put on a character and ask him to tell a joke — he would do so.

The power connectivity of costumes at this event is magical. Although, there are plenty of people who choose not to dress up too. Admiring the neat costumes around the festival is magical within itself.

Barely Balanced

A large attraction to Ren Fest is the sheer amount of shows they have each and every weekend. By shows I mean various performances from acting, to comedy, to dangerous stunts, to soothing music and daring acrobatics.

One of my favorite performances from all the years I have been is a trio of acrobats by the name of Barely Balanced.

This performance has equal parts silliness and skill. I was absolutely amazed by their tricks when I first saw them. Their name speaks truth.

I also want to note how great of a stage presence they have. This trio is extremely charismatic. After and before performances they walk around on stilts and chat to families and individuals enjoying the festival. They radiate a lot of positivity and love for what they do.

They will be performing every weekend at Carolina Renaissance Festival.


There are so many vendors and artisans at Renaissance Festival. The goods at the event range so much; from delicate glass blowing to stunning jewelry to handcrafted swords.

In big events or conventions like this sometimes all the goods can blend together– this is not the case at Ren Fest.

Each shop has such character and charm. There is truly something for everyone here. It is also a great place to buy unique gifts for family and friends before the holiday season arrives.

I have bought some of my favorite pieces of jewelry here and always look forward to what new things they will have.

Tips and Tricks

Renaissance Festival is a great place to escape reality for a little quiet. If you are planning on attending this year or next, here are a few tips and tricks to improve your time there:

The hours of the festival are 9:30am to 5:30pm. Be sure to leave before or around 5:00pm to beat the traffic out of the festival. There can also be a long line to get into the festival in the morning, I found arriving around 11am typically avoids the traffic.

Time goes by very quickly, be sure you plan the shows you want to see as soon as you get there. I found that I can fit two to three shows maximum in a day. I recommend minimizing the shows you see the first time you go to Renaissance Festival so you have a chance to see all the shops and sights throughout the entire festival.

Due to the time of year, it can often be quite chilly. When planning a costume or picking out your outfit be sure to check the weather beforehand. North Carolina weather can be dramatic, so have some flexible layers to your outfit.

Lastly, bring cash. Many food vendors do not accept card and the lines to the atm can get long. I recommend bringing some cash with you if you plan on partaking in the food or drinks at the festival. Also, the caramel apples are very good.

Closing Thoughts

The Carolina Renissance Festival has a lot to offer. I was really amazed by the wide variety of people and personalities at the event. There is a charm to the event that is difficult to find elsewhere.

This event brings me a lot of happiness, and I hope it has the same effect on you.

The festival will be open every weekend until Nov. 20.

I hope you all have a wonderful time if you attend. Have a excellent fall and renaissance season.


Every ULTRAKILL Level Ranked By Music

The ULTRAKILL soundtrack by Heaven Pierce Her is awesome. It’s fast, it’s hard, and it pushes you to go absolutely nuts with the game. Here is my ranking of every level based on their music. I will not be covering any secret levels or Prime Sanctums, but all other levels are here. Also, if you haven’t played ULTRAKILL yet, there will be minor spoilers in this blog.

Read more: Every ULTRAKILL Level Ranked By Music

25. Court of The Corpse King

Title image for the Court of the Corpse King. Features the giant boss, King Minos, peering down at you.

The only real music in this level is the ambience leading up to the boss fight, which sets the tone well, but once the boss fight starts, there is only more ambient noise. Maybe if there was some more substance, I would rank it higher, but there isn’t enough music in this music.

24. Cerberus

Cover image for the level: Cerberus. Features a hallway with a pool of lava.

The first major boss fight of the game has a disappointing score. There is a nice rumbling ambient buildup leading up to it, but the music during the fight itself is a bombastic intro set on a roughly 30 second loop. It sounds cool the first time, but it gets old very fast.

23. Waves of The Starless Sea

Cover image for the level: Waves of the Starless Sea. Features a boardwalk with a storming sea around it.

Despite being one of my favorite levels, I have to rank it low on this list due to a complete absence of music for the first half of the level. Even as the level progresses, the music is kept to a minimum, with a single violin accompanying the sound of rain and crashing water. As the Ferryman boss fight at the end of the level unfolds, it’s too little too late. The Ferryman’s theme gets too repetitive, even for the short time it’s there.

22. Sheer Heart Attack

Cover image for the level: Sheer Heart Attack. Features a heart shaped pool of water.

This level is fast and confusing and stressful, and the music perfectly reflects this. The main melody is harsh, but not in a particularly interesting way. There are some great guitar riffs sprinkled in here, but it is mostly forgettable among the better parts of ULTRAKILL’s soundtrack.

21. Bridgeburner

Cover image for the level: Bridgeburner. Features a dark pink sky with a tower looming in the distance.

The best quality of this track is the layering of synths that ease you into the digital lust realm of Layer 2. The first thirty seconds or so of the song meshes well with the gritty dystopian cityscape. After that though, the music becomes pretty forgettable, as you move on to something a little more intense.

20. Death At 20000 Volts

Cover image for the level: Death at 20000 volts. Features a city courtyard at night.

This level adapts the melodies of Bridgeburner and gives them a stronger backbone. The music feels sleazy, as a realm of lust should be, but again, compared to most of the music in this game, it becomes fairly forgettable.

19. A One-Machine Army

Cover image for the level: One Machine Army. Features a hexagonal hallway.

By the time you get to this level, you will be sick of the song. It is used in the first four levels of the game, with this level being the last of them, thus its ranking below the others.

18. Double Down

Cover image for the level: Double Down. Features four orange pillars of light.

The music is a little more fresh on this level, as this is only the third time in a row that you’ve heard it.

17. The Meatgrinder

Cover image for the level: The Meatgrinder. Features a room with a statue in it.

The theme from Into The Fire continues onto this track with slight variations to keep it fresh. There’s an extra bassline or two, and the drum breaks are a bit different. Unfortunately, as the levels continue, that freshness starts to go away, but the track has enough substance to push the player forward through the mechanical halls of the prelude levels.

16. Into The Fire

Cover image for the level: Into the Fire. Features a room with two statues in it.

Here we are. The music from the very beginning of the game. Not only is this the first time you hear the breakcore take on DOOM-like music that ULTRAKILL is known for, but there is also a nice buildup, adding to the anticipation, before being thrust right into the action.

15. In The Flesh

Cover image for the level: In The Flesh. Features a room with a giant heart suspended in midair.

As you approach the end of Act I, an organ starts to ring out through the organs that surround you. As it turns out, this is actually a piece written by Johann Sebastian Bach called, “I Call To You, Lord Jesus Christ.” Tunneling through the fleshy walls of King Mino’s insides leads you to a giant open chamber where guitars ring out in epic baroque fashion. It’s very fitting for a boss fight, but it loops a touch too quickly.

14. God Damn The Sun

Cover image for the level: God damn the sun. Features Egyptian ruins covered in sand. In the background the Big Ben clock pokes out of the sand.

The heat of the desert sun beating down on you introduces a super heavy sludgy sound that fits the level well. There is more of a reliance on drum breaks to carry the intensity of the song forward than the other heavy desert level music, but the unique elements of this track still stand out.

13. Belly of The Beast

Cover image for the level: Belly of the Beast. Features twisting staircases.

The music on this level starts out slowed and disoriented as you try to gather your surroundings, but once it picks up, you can’t help but feel inspired by the violins and pianos doing runs up and down and the sick drum beats urging you on.

12. Leviathan

Cover image for the level: Leviathan. Featuring an underwater path of lamps.

Perhaps I may be a bit hypocritical here with my comments about ambient music in this game, because I adore the ambient beginning of this stage. There are chimes mixed with reversed chimes to create this super haunting effect as you bound across the bottom of the sea. It’s a warning. A premonition of things to come. The boss theme itself is pretty average. It has enough scope to make it work, but it’s definitely not a standout. The music in the beginning of this level though, makes it one of my favorite moments in the game.

11. Heart of The Sunrise

Cover image for the level: Heart of the sunrise. Features a small pavilion with a fountain in the middle.

After going through the intensity of the first major boss battle, you might be caught off guard by what comes next: sunny blue skies, a scattering of trees, and a cute little wishing well. With this confusing sight comes a relaxing piano tune that rings out with a harp-like cadence. But as you poke around, you start to realize that something is wrong. None of this is real. This is when the music ramps up and enemies start to appear. Fast drum breaks and tense melodies played on high pitched piano keys turn Limbo’s relaxing façade into an arena for battle.

10. Slaves To Power

Cover image for the level: Slave to power. Features a pyramid with a sun behind it.

Slaves to Power features a mix of a stereotypical videogame desert level sounds and sludgy metal riffs. Double kicks and grimy guitars will get your head banging while traversing the sands of greed. There is also a healthy does of drum breaks to keep the breakcore theme of the soundtrack tied together, with layered vocals also helping to widen out the track.

9. Hall Of Sacred Remains

Cover image for the level: Hall of sacred remains. Features a giant door with two statues on either side of it.

Who would have thought that harpsichord and guitar distortion would go so well together? This track moves at breakneck pace, introducing more harpsichord layers and guitar distortion as it progresses. The main melody has a nice chromatic decent making for a perfect cinematic backdrop to a level with lots to explore. It also helps that this tune is super catchy.

8. Aesthetics of Hate

Cover image for the level: Aesthetics of hate. Features the boss Gabriel playing at an organ.

Bach once again marks the beginning of the end. The final level of Act II opens with a different rendition of “I Call To You, Lord Jesus Christ,” but this time in a far more sinister tone, with some chimes ringing in first as a prelude. The archangel Gabriel turns to face you, and a beefier stronger theme from In The Flesh rings out over a pool of blood. A great way to end the current levels in the game and leave people waiting for what’s coming next.

7. Clair De Lune

Cover image for the level: Clair de lune. Features a room with stained glass windows.

This level starts fittingly with Debussy’s “Clair De Lune,” setting a romantic nighttime mood. Then the acoustic guitar comes in. An intense multi-part boss theme fills the room as you fight V2, a twin version of yourself. This fight is hard. You will hear this song over and over again. Unlike some other boss themes however, it’s hard to get tired of this one. The theme is diverse, which keeps things fresh dozens of deaths in.

6. Clair De Soleil

Cover image for the level: Clair de solil. Features the boss V2 sliding down a pyramid.

The V2 battle theme from Clair De Lune carries over to Clair De Soleil, but much like V2 itself, the soundtrack is stronger this time. It’s more intense and fits the faster pace of the boss battle. It also ranks higher than Clair De Lune due to the music leading up to the fight using the same motifs and contributing to the atmosphere of the pyramid, without relying on a preexisting song to build atmosphere.

5. The Burning World

Cover image for the level: The burning world. Features a stone tower surrounded by trees.

This level uses the same music as Heart of The Sunrise, building the expectation that this will be a nice tame level just like the last one. Then, everything is on fire. The pretty polygonal trees are burning to a crisp, the earth is scorching. Pained industrial squealing drowns out any sense of safety you thought you might have had, which is why it lands so high on this list. This is the level that says to you, “Be ready for anything in this game.”

4. In The Wake of Poseidon

Cover image for the level: In the wake of Poseidon. Features an underwater ruins.

They say that water levels always have the best music, and this level certainly makes a strong case. The music remains a sloshed haze while under the water, with percussive elements poking through. But where the music on this level really shines is when you’re out of the water. The tone is both tranquil and sinister, highlighted by a smooth saxophone section. The music takes the traditionally calm aesthetics of water music in other games and mixes them with intense drum breaks to make something truly unique.

3. A Shot In The Dark

Cover image for the level: A shot in the dark. Features a large dark room with green lights lighting up platforms.

The music in A Shot In The Dark is a perfect example of the music of the level evolving with the atmosphere of the level. It starts out with only a small vocal chorus and an eerie marimba. As you explore the pitch black insides of an ancient pyramid, the chorus slowly starts to expand. Percussive elements are introduced, adding to the intensity. Its reserved in its use of percussive elements, which makes it stand out in a soundtrack where fast drum breaks are common. Even a harpsichord joins in at one point. It all comes to a head in the final room, which is a huge disorienting arena with spinning merry-go-round lights. An organ cuts through the track, spinning a dizzying melody that perfectly fits with the grandiose nature of the surroundings.

2. Cry For The Weeper

Cover image for the level: Cry for the weeper. Features a headless corpse hanging upside down, dripping blood into a pool.

Cry For The Weeper starts out with super intense industrial noise that sounds absolutely crushing. It shifts and evolves, and if you listen to the music carefully, it sounds like it’s breathing. What makes this level special though isn’t the beginning. After the noise starts to fade away, you’re dropped into the rest of the stage, where a brand new version of the Belly of The Beast (#13) music starts to play. The instrumentation is turned up several notches, and there are motifs and nods to the music from the very beginning of the game as well! The shredding guitar and the double kick drum only make things more epic, and to top it off, the final battle on this stage is yet another remake of previous music, this time from Hall of Sacred Remains (#9). It’s a musical reminder of how far you’ve come while also being an epic musical peak. This is probably the single best song in the game, but there is one level that has this one beat for music.

Honorable Mention: Cybergrind

Cover image for the endless cybergrind mode. Features a giant floating cube.

The music for Cybergrind, ULTRAKILL’s endless arena mode, had to have been made in a government lab as an experiment to see how well a person could be kept in a flow state. It’s not technically a level, but you can’t talk about ULTRAKILL music without bringing up the Cybergrind music.

1. Ship of Fools

Cover image for the level: Ship of Fools. Features an upside down winding staircase.

Ship of Fools is a masterclass in how to build atmosphere with music. Right out of the gate, you’re met with a violin that immediately screams “pirate ship.” Before your eyes have even registered what you’re looking at, you already know from the swing of the tune, that this is a boat level. The main tune could easily be the theme of the deadliest pirate gang in the seven seas. The guitars and piano are intense, but accessible and catchy. There is also a neat horn section that appears from time to time to add an extra layer to the track that makes it less “pirate-y” and a bit more smooth. There’s even a bridge that features an accordion. What is more pirate ship than an accordion? The track is so much fun, and always feels fresh.

But then, the boat is flipped over. The level is upside down. Water floods the halls, and the lights are dim, and the music reflects this change perfectly. The track slows down, keeping the same melodies, but with an entirely different rhythm and instrumentation. The harp is really what shines on this track. It sent shivers down my spine when I first heard it. This track creates an eerie and somber mood, perfect for trekking back through the wreckage of a massive ship. The music in Ship of Fools is an excellent reminder of why video games have music in the first place: to make the places you explore feel alive.


“Babel” by R.F. Kuang Book Review

“Babel” is a dark academia historical fantasy book by R. F. Kuang set in 1830s Oxford University. “Babel” utilizes fantasy elements to highlight the cruelty of imperialism all while creating an engaging story full of fleshed-out, interesting characters.

I have been following Kuang’s work since the release of her first novel, “The Poppy War”, in 2018. She turned “The Poppy War” into a trilogy and announced earlier this year after the end of “The Poppy War” trilogy, that she would be releasing her fourth book, “Babel” in August.

I was extremely excited to hear this and immediately pre-ordered a copy. I finished “Babel” and must say, this book lived up to and exceeded my expectations. Kuang’s prose continues to get stronger and her stories more elaborate and nuanced.

The Magic System

The most brilliant thing about “Babel” is its magic system. My main problem with many fantasy books set in the real world is the magic system has no impact on the world outside of the scope of the story.

“Babel” does not have this problem. Babel, which the book is named after, is the world’s center of translation and silver-working. Silver-working is the art of manifesting meaning lost in translation through enchanted silver bars, creating magical effects. In this alternative world, silver-working is what has made the British Empire an unparalleled power.

This is, in my opinion, an excellent way to incorporate fantasy elements into the real world. It is subtle but has such a large impact on everything going on in the world of the story.

The Novel

“Babel” covers revolution, colonial resistance, and the use of translation as a tool of empire. It follows protagonist Robin Swift, orphaned by cholera in Canton and plucked out of China by a wealthy and mysterious Babel Professor, Richard Lovell.

Throughout the book, Robin becomes a student at Babel and comes to learn that serving Babel, creating silver, would be a betrayal of his homeland. What’s more, as his studies progress, he gets caught between Babel and the mysterious revolutionary group Hermes.

Throughout this book, Robin is constantly grappling with the question: can powerful institutions be changed from within, or does revolution always require violence?

This book does a great job handling the heavy themes it tries to tackle. Robin and Robin’s cohort feel like a very dynamic, alive group of characters. Often in fantasy books, I feel that characters are merely plot pieces waiting for the next moment to move the plot along. However, I did not feel this way with “Babel”.

This book also does give equal footing to both sides of the question Robin grapples with. However, Kuang is not afraid to take a firm stand when the question must be answered.

This book is great and is an excellent use of fantasy in the real world, which is rare to see. I look forward to Kuang’s next book, “Yellowface” coming out in May 2023, which will be stepping away from fantasy.

Blog Miscellaneous

Overcoming and Appreciating Creative Block

It is important to not only listen to your body but also your mind.

A quick disclaimer, I am not a psychologist or a doctor. I will be speaking from my own experiences with creative block and from observing the effects it has had on my peers.

As a college student in a creative-oriented major, I face creative block quite frequently. However, many students outside creative fields are met with creative block without realizing it.

Creative block is often defined as lack of inspiration. It can be associated with burnout, where there is a void of motivation altogether. 

In my experience the symptoms of burnout are overshadowed by creative block. 

Burnout often has a clear solution: rest. Creative block is more ambiguous.

You may find yourself asking, “Will I ever have another good idea?” or “Am I ever going to be able to create again?”. Creative block does not have a simple solution or does it have a distinct end; leaving the individual with doubt and insecurity. This doubt often pushes individuals to keep working until they find some creativity again.

However, I truly believe creative block can be a beneficial step in a design process.

Creative block is a signal to stop, stand up, and unplug. Most of all it is a signal to experience something different or new.

Taking a Break

This is not as easy as it sounds. Between the pressures of professor expectations, deadlines, and competitive peers; taking a break sounds impossible at times.

When a break feels impossible is the exact moment we should be taking a break. I am not encouraging to ignore work altogether, but rather to redirect one’s productive approach.

Building in breaks is seen to increase productivity and communal health.

Went we take breaks we are not only performing a different activity but we are experiencing different sights, smells, and feelings. This passive presception can contribute to our creativity immensely.

I believe when we experience something new we are charging our creative battery.

Redefining Rest

In college there is certainly a culture of pulling all nighters for the sake of studying or finishing an impeding project. 

I would like to highlight that everyone has there own circadian rhythm and ideal work periods— so I am not dismissing all nighters. However, I do think overworking and  lack of proper rest is a direct contribution to creative block.

Proper rest means more than just 8 hours of sleep.

It’s very important to make time for the things you enjoy. Although academics are a priority for college students, it is vital to recognize that life is more than academics.

Whether that is sports, games, reading, tuning into WKNC, meditating, etc.

To maintain a healthy mind and therefore a creative thought process, we must have compassion towards ourselves.


It is clear that creative block can plague the music world and beyond.

Although it is difficult to wait for your favorite musicians or bands to make a new release; it is important for everyone to take their time completing a creative project.

In my opinion, some of the best music is created through overcoming creative block and taking lots of time. It often leads to new sounds, new explorations, and a happier performer.

So next time you are faced with creative block, try to avoid beating yourself up or doubting your abilities, but rather thank your brain for telling you to take a break. Go take a break.


Exploration of Themes in “House of the Dragon”

“Game of Thrones” Sundays have officially returned. After the massive let-down that ended the HBO pop-culture phenomenon, fans have been awaiting a return to the world of Westeros. “House of the Dragon” promises the return.

Set 200 years before the events of “Game of Thrones”, “House of the Dragon” takes a dive into Westeros with House Targaryen at the height of their power. From the first episode alone, “House of the Dragon” will explore themes of succession, sexism and classism.

Fantasy as a genre allows for the exploration of themes in a way that is not possible through regular media. Fantastical settings and events allow the creators of these stories to explore themes hyperbolically. “House of the Dragon” uses the Westeros to give perspective and insight into real-world problems that viewers may deal with.

A Prologue

The first episode of the show focuses heavily on succession to the Iron Throne. From the first scene, all three major themes are put on display. In a scene that takes place 15 years before the following scenes in the episode, King Jaehaerys I Targaryen elects a council of mostly male lords to decide who will be his successor to the Throne. The two primary candidates are his two grandchildren, cousins Rhaenys Targaryen, eldest living descendant to the Throne, and Viserys I Targaryen, eldest living male descendant to the throne.

In this scene, while Rhaenys is the eldest, giving her precedent to the Throne. However, Viserys is elected to inherit the throne by the council of over a thousand lords of Westeros. This biting undercut to the succession of the Throne made by this council sets the tone for the rest of the episode and surely for the rest of the series.

A Battle on Two Fronts

We are brought many years into the rule of King Viserys later in the episode. His wife, Aemma Targaryen, is about to give birth to their second child. The king is certain the child will be male. To celebrate, he holds a jousting tournament to celebrate the coming birth of his male heir. As the bouts begin, Aemma begins to give birth.

During a brutal interweaving of scenes, we watch Viserys’ brother, Daemon Targaryen, use his royal status to cheat his way to the final bout of the joust while Aemma struggles in labor. In the final bout, Daemon is beaten by a man who was otherwise unknown before this tournament, Ser Criston Cole. Criston’s defeat of Prince Daemon is a satisfying scene, highlighting that the only thing separating Daemon from anyone else is his rank.

In this world, much like our own, a man’s choice has the power to override a woman’s. This is put into horrifying effect in a scene at the end of this inter-splicing sequence. King Viserys chooses to sacrifice his wife in order to save his male heir, unbeknownst to her. Their son lives for mere hours before dying anyways, leaving Viserys with only his eldest daughter, Rhaenyra Targaryen.

Viserys, only after sacrificing his wife, realizes the foolishness in the precedent of a male heir. A precedent that won him the Throne. At the end of the episode, Viserys goes against a 200-year tradition to name Rhaenyra his heir. This sets up what will be a primary conflict for the episodes following the premiere.

A Promising Premiere

Those were only the biggest highlights of the major themes throughout the episode. However, many other scenes and sequences beautifully portrayed the key themes which will hopefully remain present throughout the entirety of the show.

While this episode was not the bombastic start of “Game of Thrones”, “House of the Dragon” begins as a slow-burning, highly thematic cousin to the show which first aired over 10 years ago.

May the luck of the Seven shine upon you,


Miscellaneous Music News and Interviews

How the Pandemic Influenced Concert Culture

The post-COVID experience has changed drastically whether it’s our preference for working from home or doing classes over Zoom. It’s no doubt that concert culture has adapted as well.

The attendance of concerts, the fashion, the concept of camping out hours or days before shows. 

I’ve heard a common ideology going around these days, that people aren’t working because they want to but because they want money to buy concert tickets. 


Attending smaller shows that average $20 a ticket seems simple for people who have survived quarantine buying hundreds of new clothes or supplies for new hobbies from boredom. 

Now there’s less time being bored, so the next best alternative for a fun 3-hour experience is going to a concert.

The class of 2023 to the class of 2026 especially has lost so much of the ‘supposed’ best time of our lives with college and high school years of freedom being obliterated.

Because of this everyone is seeking that missed experience by going to concerts. Celebrating our favorite artists with fellow fans our age.


Not only has concert fever increased but the whole culture behind it has changed.

In the past, you wouldn’t typically dress up as if you were going to the MET Gala when getting ready for concerts. However, these days fans go all out by recreating outfits the artist has worn in the past or matching the vibe of the tour. 

I love this new change because it makes going to a concert this event. Of course, it’s not mandatory but gives people another thing to look forward to doing to get into concert mode. 

I know it makes me hype at least.

What I love about the new fashion culture of concerts the most is that you can dress to the nines and wear the most outrageous outfits that you possibly could not wear on a school campus or at work or in your daily life.

It gives you the chance to step outside of your comfort zone while having people dressed as cool as you surrounding you.

Not only is it the outfits, but the hairstyles and makeup looks that people are dedicated to doing just for themselves are what I enjoy the most.

Of course, sometimes concertgoers want to dress their best in the rare chance the artist sees them, but for the most part, they dress in a way they are the most confident version of themselves – for themselves.

Camping Out

Unfortunately, there is a negative aspect to this adapted concert culture, I fear. In the past, people would show up maybe one hour early to a concert before doors opened.

These days, especially when it comes to general admission venues or venues with pits, fans line up eight plus hours in advance just to be at the barricades. Just to be that close to the artists on the stage. 

Not only is this dangerous for the health of the fans but is honestly unreasonable too.

The extremeness only increases as the popularity of the artist increases.

Someone I met at the Wallows concert told me they had been in line for over eight hours just so they could get interactions with the band members. 

Another person stood in line for over 15 hours for a Harry Styles show. Another person was in line for a whopping 21 hours for Olivia Rodrigo.

One extreme situation I read about was that people started camping out at 11 pm the day before a Harry Styles concert that was starting at 7 pm. Full on setting up camping tents and everything.

The list goes on and on, with people waiting 8-9 hours for indie artists like Role Model, Clairo, Wallows, etc., and people waiting 15+ hours for more famous artists like Dua Lipa or The Weeknd.

The max I’ve waited in a line was 2 hours, and I’ve gotten barricade for almost every concert I’ve been to. Of course, all those concerts were at The Ritz in Raleigh so it wasn’t difficult to do so. 

Over quarantine and Post-COVID many artists that we could refer to as “small” have doubled or even tripled in their monthly listeners and this along with the passion of fans has increased the intensity of concert culture.

It’s fascinating how music consumption and concert culture was so drastically influenced by quarantine and the pandemic. 

Regardless of how you want to take part in concert culture, I definitely recommend going to a live show at least once. It’s a life-changing experience.

Miscellaneous Music Education

How Does Eastern Music Differ from Western Music?

Although in the modern day, Eastern culture has had a lot of influences on Western music and Western culture has had a lot of influence on Eastern music I wanted to a brief break down of the unique differences between the two.

The main difference even an untrained ear can pinpoint is the instruments used.

For example in Eastern music, the most common traditional instruments in many cultures are lutes. The Middle East has a lute called the Oud. India uses the Sitar. China has a lute called the pipa. The list goes on. 

Essentially they have instruments that create these entrancing tunes as well as more complex melodies in general. There are many overlapping rhythms and are at the forefront of traditional Eastern music. They use 7-tone and 5-tone systems that rely more on the manipulation of melodies instead of using set chords.

On the other hand, the West has more instruments that are found in orchestras such as string instruments, guitars, woodwind instruments, and percussion instruments such as saxophones and flutes, and bagpipes. 

Western music in general puts harmonies at the forefront. They have more complex harmonies and have something called a 12-tone equal temperament. In simple terms, the series of eight notes are organized equally instead of in an odd fashion.

One way to put it is, that Western music is oriented around written music. It can be written down and repeated in an orderly structure. Eastern music is oriented around oral music. It can’t necessarily be captured in notes and is more dynamic and improvisation.

While you can categorize Western music, at its core, Eastern music is not necessarily a genre or category. 

As you move from one country to another, their entire way of composing and creating music is different. The instruments they use change based on culture and the way they arrange their rhythms and melodies vary as well.

Don’t want to get too historical here, but because the West has this shared ‘European’ culture it’s easy to say that most Western music sounds similar.

This can’t be said about Eastern music because of how diverse each continent and subcontinent is. South African music is far different from North Eastern Asian music. 

That’s one of the most fascinating things I love about music. 

How each culture has its own music and how music can tell so much about the country’s culture and history.

If you hadn’t had the chance to listen to some Eastern music, I truly recommend it. 

Even what we consider ‘pop’ music sounds far different in Japan or Lebanon or Bollywood.


Dive into “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou”

Exploring the seas terrifies me. The endless blue waves that roll and span out into infinity leave too much space on the horizon. And underneath all that water, are an unknown quantity of mysterious and dangerous creatures coming in the strangest shapes and sizes. Maybe some of that fear is why Wes Anderson’s “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou” is such an appealing film to me.

“The Life Aquatic” is Wes Anderson’s fourth feature-length release. Bill Murray is the lead actor, and Owen Wilson and Cate Blanchett are two of the numerous supporting actors in this film.

Also in this movie is Seu Jorge, a Brazilian artist, who covers popular David Bowie songs throughout the film. His acoustic covers are homely and create a beautiful soundtrack for key moments in the film. 

Free Dive into “The Life Aquatic” with Chef

To start out, this movie is a classically designed Wes Anderson film, so pastel colors and a strong sense of symmetry are evident in each frame of the film. Anderson’s directorial style is so perfect for the script and story that take place. 

Take a look at this scene that describes the boat Steve Zissou and his crew live on:

Another great aspect of this movie is the use of puppets and CGI. The fictional sea creatures that Zissou and his team meet and encounter are gorgeous and colorful. In the opening scenes of the film there is a beautiful rainbow colored seahorse that encapsulates the audience’s attention and imagination. 

In terms of characters and character development, Steve Zissou and crew all become better people by the end of the movie. Zissou is a manipulative, womanizing control freak, but his softer sides prove that he deserves and can actually feel love. 

My singular favorite artistic contribution to “The Life Aquatic” are Seu Jorge’s covers. He translates and rewrites David Bowie covers like “Life On Mars?”, “Oh You Pretty Things” and “Ziggy Stardust”.

The tracks are all acoustic and create a beautiful ambiance on the screen (and off the screen if you listen to the tracks at home). Here’s a look at some clips of Jorge himself playing in a few scenes:

Surfacing Thoughts

I love this film. Everything from the music to the cinematography creates a beautiful, perfect planet where everyone loves nature and respects it. Maybe that’s one of the takeaways from this film, but I also love the characters. 

For being an a**hole, Zissou really does love people in his own way. It’s nice to see how terrible people can be and understand that even they need some type of love in their life.


Street Musicians in Québec

I took a little trip to Québec this week, more specifically Montréal and Québec City. There was an abundance of street performers and artists at many parks and gathering areas in the city.

Being from a not-such-a-metropolis that Montréal or a European-influenced city like Québec, I wanted to share my experience with street musicians and talk about how much I appreciate the art form.

Street musicians and performers have been around for centuries since 462 BC in Ancient Rome. 

It’s no lie how much joy they bring to people and can liven up any street or outdoor setting.

Maybe it’s due to the French influence on Québec that the prevalence of street performers and music was much more visible compared to cities in the U.S. 

Montréal has constant music festivals and festivals year long and music seems to be a big part of Québec’s culture. 

I saw a myriad of instruments as I walked through the streets of Montréal and Québec City. With artists playing the violin, guitar, singing, and other instruments I had never seen before. 

I haven’t yet found out the name of the instrument, but it looked almost like a wooden block with a kickstand. The man was sitting on the block playing the harmonica and kicking the block ever so often. It made me curious how many instruments are out there that I’ve never seen or heard of.

One spot in Montréal I loved particularly was an area in front of the Notre Dame Basilica called Place d’Armes. It was a cobblestone-lined courtyard with a fountain and tables scattered around the square for people to relax and sip coffee. Underneath a row of trees, there was a duo singing and playing the guitar for pedestrians and general visitors to the area. 

The moment felt unreal. Standing in that courtyard observing people enjoying their Saturday afternoon, the euphonious melodies of the street musicians filled the air. 

Even as I was walking through the cobblestone streets of Old Québec City at the Quartier Petit Champlain, it felt like walking through the streets of France. With street musicians playing instruments wherever I looked. 

They looked genuinely content and the joy on their faces as visitors to the city took videos of them playing was precious. 

The city is considered a city of pedestrians due to how walk-friendly it is. Hearing these musicians after walking miles and miles under the beaming sun immediately changed the environment. It gave it this whimsy and lightness.

An old man was sitting near the cul-de-sac of one of the streets playing his violin fully unbothered. He was lost in his own world immersed in his music and it made me wonder if that’s the best retirement plan in the world

Playing songs for people just to make them happy and share the wonders of music.

Seeing these street musicians is an experience that’s a bit difficult to describe in words and it’s easier to be there in the moment taking it all in. 

It made me realize that musicians and performers come in all different forms. Seeing artists sharing their talents to the world in unique forms is something I’ll never get enough of.

Miscellaneous Music News and Interviews

Thoughts on Lollapalooza Live Stream

I mentioned in my “Best Way to Consume Music” post that I wanted to go to Lollapalooza this year. 

It was racking my brain for weeks whether I wanted to spend money on going to Chicago and experience the adrenaline of large crowds, being squished in a mosh pit and standing at the barricade for hours to see my favorite artists perform, or sit in the comfort of my living room and watch those same performances on my TV.

Personally, after seeing how large the crowds got there I think I made the right choice. There is always next year if I want to go experience the rush in real life.

Anyway, I thought I could share my thoughts on the live stream for those who didn’t have access to Hulu or didn’t watch it.

To give more background about the live-streaming, there were two channels: Channel 1 and Channel 2. Each channel was streaming from around 2:00 pm ET to 11:00 pm ET.

In hindsight, being able to swap back and forth between channels to tune in to performances was much more simple compared to having to traverse Grant Park to see different artists in person. This way I could just turn off the TV or watch a different channel if I didn’t want to tune into an artist I didn’t enjoy. 


These are the artist I tuned into and the days.

Thursday (7/28)

  • Still Woozy

Saturday (7/30)

  • Big Sean
  • Wallows
  • Tomorrow By Together
  • Willow
  • J. Cole

Sunday (7/31)

  • Djo
  • Måneskin
  • Beach Bunny
  • j-hope
  • Denzel Curry

Another thing to note, Lollapalooza has 1-day, 2-day, 3-day, and 4-day pass options if you attend in person, so it’s up to the festival attendees which days they want to go to the festival based on the lineups for that day. 

This was one thing I appreciated about Lollapalooza was, of course, the free live stream on Hulu, as well as the ability to choose which days you wanted to attend the festival whether it was on live stream or in person.

Here is a thought I had about Lollapalooza in general, especially after seeing someone of these artists perform in-person and through live-stream as well. I honestly think it takes a lot of talent to pull off performing on stages as big as the ones on Lollapalooza.

The performers kept a huge crowd entertained whether they were closer to the stage or farther back. They were able to get the whole crowd hype about the music. It was impressive to see their stage presence as well as the lights used for the evening performances.

The only downside of streaming is that due to the huge lineup, not all performances were shown. Unfortunately, I  wasn’t able to tune into Dominic Fike, Dua Lipa, Glass Animals, COIN, or Claire Rosinkranz’s performances because their stages didn’t have coverage. 

Regardless, as I’ve mentioned before, the way you want to consume music is all a preference and of course, preferences can change over time. Whether you want to attend Lollapalooza in person or stream it as I did, I’m glad the options are available both ways.

Enjoy music in the way you want to and experience your life how you want to.