Is Slurpee’s Battle of the Bands Contest Sweet Enough?

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Slurpee Battle of the Bands

I’m a sucker for a well-mixed Coke, mango and cherry Slurpee after a show or anytime the crave strikes, so I thought I’d share this Slurpee Battle of the Bands contest that wraps up today. And like all the other concert contests we’ve featured on Live Fix, this Slurpee contest needs a few more ingredients to make it even sweeter.

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Satisfy Your Concert Contest Craving: AXE, Sennheiser, Baeble, Urban Outfitters, Levi’s & more

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AXE Music one night only contest

We’ve been keeping an eye out for cool contests this year. And here are four more concert contests from AXE, Sennheiser, Baeble, Levi’s and Urban Outfitters featuring the music of rapper T.I., indie-rock band Deerhunter and a love for concert photography.
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How To Recalibrate Your Love For Live Music

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Heightened Senses!

concert burnout happens. and when it does. give your senses a rest. try something else instead of going to a show this weekend.

stay home. read a book. maybe this one. it’s one of my favorites. and it’s all about our senses.

this book’s pretty good too. it’s full of stories about how much other fans love live music just like you.

watch a concert dvd on mute by yourself. maybe one of these. not using our ears, removing the crowd effect and only relying on our eyes can reveal some amazing things.

go for a walk at night around your neighborhood. just hum and walk. hum and walk. it’s like reading a ray bradbury book and you’ll and realizing the beauty of live music (or music in general) is the silent space in between the notes.

invite your nephew or neighborhood kid who loves Yo Gabba Gabba! over. ask him why he loves to dance to “Party in My Tummy.” listen to what he says. watch what he does. how he acts. and then ask yourself if you could feel that much joy, feel that childlike at your next show. maybe you could be like this dancing guy?

invite your friends and family over. ask them what concerts were their all-time favorites. remember to ask them why. and listen closely. pay close attention to their eyes, smile and voice inflection. that’s where the gold is. see if they have a list like this one.

watch your spouse, girlfriend or boyfriend play the guitar next to you on the couch. ask them to play you a tune (anything but freebird). tell them it sounds great. watch them as they play. and think of your last concert. say thank you to your spouse, girlfriend or boyfriend.

then…

pick a concert to go to next weekend. a band you haven’t seen before. go with a friend (or that person who played you a tune, or that family member who told you about their favorite concert ever).

go to the venue blindfolded. ask your friend to walk you into the venue and protect you from bumping into things and other concert fans. when the band comes on stage wait until the end of the second song to take off your blindfold.

enjoy the rest of the show. (and remember what you read in that book.)

come back to this post and tell me what you saw, heard, felt and tasted…. in the comments below.

repeat.

What are your favorite ways to recharge your love for live music?

“Heightened Senses” Photo by Mark Johnston

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Recalling the Sounds and Smells of Aerosmith Live

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AerosmithbannerHow do you remember your favorite concerts?  Was it how the concert venue smelled, or was it how the music sounded?

When I heard that one of my friends and colleagues was going to an Aerosmith concert a few weeks ago, I asked her to take some pictures and let me know, when the concert was over, what sense allowed her to best recall and remember the show.

Disclaimer: Now, I have to be honest. This request was a bit self-fish. Mainly, because Aerosmith was my first concert experience. I saw them when I was in high school.  But, unfortunately, I still don’t have the concert shirt from the show.

But I can still remember how the shirt smelled. And I loved it.  In a deviant sort of way.  

During the show the shirt had absorbed all the smells from the concert. And it doesn’t surprise me that my sense of smell is what  best helps me remember the show.  Because olfacton is strongly linked to long-term memory.

If you haven’t already guessed what smell I remember the most by now I’ll tell you; it was the wafting clouds of pot circulating around the amphitheater and lawn area.

I never smoked any weed at the concert and my parents weren’t crazy about me going in the first place. But nonetheless it was a great time. And a concert I will always remember because of the smell.

So I asked Lauren, who was also seeing Aerosmith for the first time,  to grab some pix and fill me in on the concert’s details, so I could share them with you as told by her in words and pictures. 

Lauren’s Facebook update

A day after the concert Lauren expressed how she felt via a Facebook update. 

completely understand why Aerosmith will go down in history as one of the best bands of all time. A two hour set and they STILL weren’t able to fit all of their hits into one show. BEST LIVE PERFORMANCE EVER!!

But you never know what might happen at a concert.  Here’s a snippet from our Facebook IM chat once I saw her post-concert update.

Lauren: hey, I couldn’t find my camera yesterday so I went out and got a new one at Target, but when i got to the concert and put the battery in with the new memory, the memory card they sold me and insured would work didn’t fit!

Luckily, Lauren was able to think quick and grab some cell phone pix.  And I’m glad she did.

I don’t know what it is about cell phone pictures. But, even if they’re grainy or a bit blurry, I still sometimes like them better than pro photos taken with a high-end camera. One reason is because they capture the show from the fan’s perspective a whole lot better than pro photos can–which works great for our purposes here.

AerosmithlawnshotI looked at Lauren’s pictures and then, as part of the fan experiment, I asked her to answer a couple additional questions to see which of her senses  helped her recall the show.

If you could relive one moment during the concert, what would that moment be and why? 

I’ve never been to an Aerosmith concert before, so when the band started to play, I was shocked by how great they sounded. Their albums are amazing, but their live musical prowess and how they integrated the crowd was mesmerizing. They truly are rock legends.

What sense gives you the strongest memory of the concert:  sight, sound, taste, touch or smell? And why?

The sound, hands down. They have been in the business for years and are still better than ever. Every high note, every song, was pitch perfect.

Our Concertgoing Hard-Wired Sensory System

Lauren picked sound as the dominant sense in recalling her concert experience.  And her pick is a common one among  most concertgoers when it comes to remembering their favorite concerts. This is because our ears are an amazing part to the hard-wiring of our brain and body’s overall sensory system.

AerosmithshowlightsThough all of our brains have the same general make-up, each concert fan’s brain and how it develops is different and unique in its own way. Though most fans use their sense of sound to recall a concert experience, others might rely on smell or even touch.  For me it was my sense of smell that helps me remember an Aerosmith concert from almost  15 years ago. How we remember our favorite concert experiences all depends on how our brain is wired up.

One Concert = Thousands of Mini-Concerts

That being said, it’s really amazing to think that each fan at a show experiences the concert uniquely in their own way.  We think of a concert as one event. But if we’re all using different senses and different brain chemistry to experience and store the  larger concert going on in front of us, then there are actually hundreds and sometimes even thousands of mini-concerts going on in the stage of our minds storing that moment for years to come in our long-term memory.

Because it’s such a big and deep topic, we’ll continue this train of thought about the concert experience and long-term memory on future posts as I ask other fans to recall their favorite concerts using their senses.

I’d like to again thank Lauren for sharing her Aerosmith concert experience and allowing me to remember my first concert, too.   As you can tell, her experience and responses have opened up a great new discussion about fan experiences that I’m excited to explore even more.

Do you a have concert experience you’d like to share? 

Send it to chris@christophercatania.com

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Rothbury Wrap-Up Part 2: A Sensual Collision with the Michigan State Police

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CopIncidentmap

 

I hope you enjoyed Part One of the Rothbury Wrap-Up.  Now here’s Part Two. It’s about my sensual backstage collision with the Michigan State Police.

On Saturday night, I was enjoying a nice juicy cheeseburger and the rest of The Dead’s set from the backstage area by the media tent at Rothbury.

Then I heard someone running at us in the darkness ahead of us. It was past 11:30pm so I couldn’t see more than a foot in front of us to see exactly who or what was coming our way, until he was just  a few inches away.

The next thing I knew I was thrown down – hard.

I never intended to actually taste the sandy Michigan soil while at Rothbury. But that’s exactly what I did. I went down to the ground in a blurry hurry.

In an awkward torque…

my left shoulder pushed back at an angle not intended for that part of my body. I felt something muscular pull. The rough gravel scrapped my knees and legs as I hit the ground. It feflt as if an NFL linebacker ( let’s say, Brian Urlacher) had just ran right over me  on his way to sack the quarterback, grab the football and keep on hauling to the end zone without looking back.

The lack of light kept me from seeing who it was. I had to rely on my wife Colleen’s post-smackdown play by play. She was still standing after getting sideswiped by the same the Michigan State Police officer flew through us like a seven-ten split.

But as I went down I held on tight to my half-eaten cheeseburger. I wasn’t going to give that up.

The kind security staff at Rothbury helped me to my feet and asked if  I was okay.  I brushed off the dirt from my clothes, gathered my barrings and told them I was okay.

I took a bite of my hamburger

and rolled my shoulders back. I felt a second awkwardly painful pull. The soreness was already setting in.

Colleen and I looked each other over for any other cuts and scrapes. We then got some freely offered legal advice from the security staff who thoughtfully recommended that I sue the Michigan State Police.

I chuckled at the idea because I didn’t think that it would be worth my time.

And I really knew that the officer was just doing his job. I just happened to be in his way.

The next thing I did was

jump on Twitter (see my tweets below). It’s what any self-respecting social media live concert experimenting guy would do, right?

With a soar left shoulder and scrapped up left leg, I did my dramatic real-time tweet as we headed back to our tent which was also conveniently located right by the Michigan State Police Rothbury Festival Headquarters.

I stopped the first MSP officer I saw and told her what had happened and asked what the officer  that ran over was responding to.

She calmly told me that there had been an incident in Sherwood forest involving a  downed camper and the perpertaor  was then on the loose in Sherwood Forest. (see map: top to bottom starting with MSP arrow path through the red “x” smackdown to the blue “x” incident call)

I was surprised that she didn’t seem to care that there was also another man down in the backstage media area.

But then again, I wasn’t really surprised at all by her nonchalant response to my story.

Don’t get me wrong, I have all the respect in the world for the MSP as they kept all of us safe at Rothbury.

And I have no hard feelings as I know the officer was just doing his job by running me over so he could help someone else.

Let’s talk about Twitter for a moment

I was sadly surprised by the non-response I got on Twitter. And as the Dead finished their set that night, I thought how all of this was actually foreshadowed in a book I had been reading over the last few months, too. (more on than in a minute.)

Sure, Twitter is suppose to be a quick response real-time social media tool. And I understand that many stars and scenarios have to be aligned for it to work perfectly as an agent of help in a situation like mine. But I’m a little concerned that the only response that I got that night (or since) was a weird automatic spamish @reply from “wickedtweets” because I had said my shoulder pain was “wicked soar.”

TwitterCopSmackdown

To say the least it was a twist in my Rothbury Live Fix Twitter experiment that I didn’t see coming. And I’m a little disappointed in all my 600 followers who didn’t seem to care that I was run over by the Michigan State Police.

I appreciate all my followers interest, but for the sake of this collision conversation I’ll say this.

If my followers don’t care about my physical well-being then what does that say about anything else I send into the Twittersphere?  I’m scared to even ask that question. But I can now say I’ve experienced one of Twitter’s greatest flaws first hand.

Should something happen where you need a quick response or you’re in danger, you’d better hope some of your followers are logged in and looking for your tweets. If not, you might end up like me, or worse.

But I hope you suffer not and never have to tweet that you just got run over by the police at a concert or anywhere else.

Diane Ackerman’s Natural History of the Scenes

The second takeaway from my smackdown by the Michigan State Police was that my encounter, although painful, was a magnificent sensual collision. I keep replaying the painful moments in time because it was the first time in my concertgoing experience that all five senses converged with such great force and vitality, all at once and in a matter of minutes.

And all of it was unplanned and completely spontaneous.

I’m amazed when I recall all the individual sensory elements to the collision because it reveals much about how we experience concerts.  It only takes a matter  of minutes, but I encourage  you to take a moment to do your own sensory recall of your last concert experience.

To give you an example, here’s my sensory breakdown of the collision. I was eating a juicy hamburger (Taste), not able to see (Sight) or hear (Sound) the MSP coming at all. Then wham! (Touch) the collision. I also remember the  odor (smell) of the officer’s musk as he blew by us.

In hindsight, I realized that this sensual collision was actually foreshadowed because I had been reading Diane Ackerman‘s excellent book A Natural History of the Senses. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about how our body’s sensory system is designed and how it has evolved. It’s a great book that I’ll be referencing many more times on Live Fix.

It’s a fascinating revelatory read that takes you through all the 5 senses. Ackerman makes several analogies to music so its easy to insert the live music experiences in to many of her examples.

Looking at the live music experience through Ackerman’s exploration of the senses has helped me better understand what makes concerts such powerful and memorable moments in our lives.

Our Own Hierarchy of the Senses

Reading Ackerman’s book prior to my collision with the MSP brought to mind an interesting thought.  Is there a hierarchy of the 5 senses? If so, does each individual concertgoer have their own personal sensory hierarchy during a show?  Meaning, when when we go to concerts is Taste at the top of the sensory list, followed by Sound, Sight, or is it in reverse? Does it change with each concert? What is the most common sense we rely on for concerts?

Though I don’t have any official scientific research, I think that, yes, we all do have some type of regular sensory hierarchy when we go to concerts.

And I also believe that we all have varying degrees of sensual collisions at concerts that probably changes or evolves in some way with each concert we go to and what band is playing.

That said, what fascinates me about this idea of us all having a personal sensory hierarchy, is that all of us are having many different sensory experiences during the same concert.

And I often wonder what it would be like if we were to somehow be able to share them among each other.

I’m not talking about swapping beers or drugs or whatever. I’m talking about sharing or communicating with each other what the final sensory result was like.

Similar to what I did by telling you my sensual collision story. If you’d like to share it, I’d be interested to know what your personal sensory hierarchy is when you go to concerts.

Since my sensual collision with the Michigan State Police, I’ve re-read many parts of Ackerman’s book with greater insight into what it’s like to have a intense multi-sensory experience at a concert. But I’d to wrap this post up by focusing on one sense: Touch.

I now know  how big a role Touch can play in helping us remember  our favorite live music experiences.  Though I enjoyed the Dead’s set before the collision, I don’t think I would have remembered it as vividly without the bulldozing help I received from the MSP.  I can say with great assurance that I was truly “touched and moved” during The Dead’s set.

A Marvelously Quick  Skin Experiment

Take a second to hold up your hand, look at your forearm or any fleshy spot on your body for a quick moment. Look at that spot and marvel at the relationship between your skin and live music. I did this many times at Rothbury while I read Ackerman’s book in between sets.  But it was this passage specifically, from the chapter on Touch, that became even more real to me ever since my sensual collision with the Michigan State Police.

…but the skin is also alive, breathing and excreting, shielding us from harmful rays and microbial attack, metabolizing vitamin D, insulating us from heat and cold, repairing itself when necessary, regulating blood flow, acting as a frame fro our sense of touch, aiding us in sexual attraction, defining our individuality, holding all the think red jams and jellies inside of us where they belong.

 

Have you had a sensual collision lately?

Is one coming your way?

Coming Up…Part 3: Behind The Scenes with Rothbury’s Green Team

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You Gotta Smell This: ScentOpera Opens in New York

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NoseLiveFix2

I knew I smelled something creative…

Reading this New York Magazine article, I learned that over the weekend in New York at the Guggenhiem a new kind of opera opened: a ScentOpera.  And since I’ve pondered on many posts about the 5 senses, I just about fell of my chair when I read this story about ScentOpera’s creators, Stewart Matthew and Christophe Laudamiel, experiment with the sense of smell at an opera. I thought that rock n roll might be the first to really explore this type of thing. But, as the article explains, the opera crowd has beat rock n roll to the punch, (or to the smell.) 

In the arts, smell is the unloved sense. Whether your point of reference is Wagner’sGesamtkunstwerk or John Waters’s scratch-and-sniff Odorama, your nose will be ignored or disappointed: Even those artists who say they want to embrace all the senses come up short with scent. SoGreen Aria, a ScentOpera, which makes its debut on May 31 and June 1 at the Guggenheim, has an especially audacious air to it. This is an experimental performance piece in which fragrance takes center stage.

And in this Wall Street Journal article, also about the ScentOpera, a reader makes a comment about his explorations with Scent Events.  

I think we’re on to something.  

Now, only if the rock n roll concert community would catch on. I guess we’ll just have to do something about this.

If you attended the ScentOpera this weekend, I’d love to hear about your experience.

Take a whiff of these other links that the NYM article points out about the creator’s scientific explorations of sense and smell. 

SenseLab 

PerfumeShrine




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Can Live Concerts Help the Visually Impaired?

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Yes, I think so.

Mainly because, in this Rocksound article, metal band Mastodon says they want to “create a more visually stimulating live show” this summer in conjunctions with their new album and tour. When I saw them at Pitchfork in 2007 it was the howling burst of drums, guitars and rumbling bass that sent me into a sensory frenzy of shaking my skin (touch) and ears (sound). If they’re going to add stimulating visuals then I can’t wait to see what that would be like.

But do rock concerts have the power to be a tool to help the visually impaired?

After I dug around a bit, I discovered some recent neurological research to backup and further my thought. And I found that there is a connection.

This 2006 Science Daily article had a few things to say about my thoughts about the possible healing and developmental power of visual stimulation:

“A new study focusing on the molecular roots of plasticity has found that visual stimulus turns up the expression of some genes and turns down the expression of others, somewhat like a conductor cueing the members of an orchestra. The study also found that during different stages of life in rodents, distinct sets of genes spring into action in response to visual input. These gene sets may work in concert to allow synapses and neural circuits to respond to visual activity and shape the brain, reports the May issue of Nature Neuroscience.”

“The researchers found other sets of genes superimposed on this core pathway, but these sets are turned on and off by vision at specific ages before, during and after the critical period and into adulthood.”

“This suggests that sensory experience regulates different genes in your brain depending on your age and past experience,” said Shatz. “Thus, nurture, our experience of the world via our senses, acts through nature, sets of genes, to alter brain circuits.”

“These discoveries may lead to new ways of thinking about genetic therapies to correct early vision disorders. Because the brain is so altered by abnormal vision, restoring vision to a child afflicted with cataracts or strabismus, an eye misalignment which can impair vision, may not be enough to correct the damage. Nor will treatment involving single gene replacement.”

This study helps explain why it is that children learn so quickly and easily, and it lends credence to the idea that, in adults, mental activity leads to mental agility.

Sometime my thoughts and theories are pretty out there and hard to back up with concrete findings, so I was amazed at how close my theory about stimulation at concerts was related to helping visually impaired people (and rats) of all ages.

So it appears this summer’s Mastodon tour might be helping the youth and older rock fans with their mental activity and lifelong agility—and not just contributing to hearing loss.

So does this mean that there is a give and take between our eyes and ears when we go to concerts?

And at what point do the two begin to counteract each other?

Does visual stimulation overload contribute to concert burnout?

Or could certain rock concerts with high amounts of visual stimulation—pyrotechnics, flashing lights, outrageous costumes etc.—actually be a benefit to our brain’s development?

I’ll have to dig deeper for answers to those questions. But at least I have a deeper understanding of why performances by Of Montreal, Saul Williams, Radiohead, David Bowie, KISS and other similar visually stimulating acts have such a huge response from fans. The artists might not be intentional about improving our mental activity or agility, but there’s definitely something going on in our brain that’s worth understanding.

If we look deeper into this, might we find that a concert is not as fun if it’s not visually stimulating?

Maybe it’s not all about our ears hearing a good concert. Maybe it’s what we see and not what we hear that makes a concert great.

Seen any stimulating shows lately?

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Think You Know Your Body?

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We’ve been talking about the 5 senses for the last month here at Live Exhaust, discussing which of the 5 senses is the most crucial to enjoying live show and why.

Is it your ears or maybe your eyes that makes a show impossible to forget? Is it the icy cold beverage you sipped as the band played on, or was it the touch of friendly flesh of that special someone huddled next to you? Or maybe it was the stimulating feeling of support(or the thrill of being dropped) as you surfed along the surface of a hundred hands? Or maybe it was the odd odor of the venue or that unshowered stinker next to you that completely ruined the show, forever logging the experience as “terrible” in your olfactorial memory bank when the band actually played its best show?

Cast your vote and comment via the new Live Exhaust poll for THE MOST IMPORTANT SENSE!

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Live Music Experiment #1: What Is The Most Important Sense?

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It’s begun!

I’m pleased to announce the first phase questionnaire that will begin a series of experiments examining the role and importance of the five senses at a live show.

After having several conversations with friends about what they think is the most important sense when it comes to enjoying a live show, I didn’t get any sort of general consensus on the senses. Whether it was a rock, hip hop or country show that my friends were recalling, I received a wide array of answers, making strong cases for ears, eyes, noses, taste buds and touch sensors.

And I now pose my question to you: What is the most important sense needed to enjoy a live show?

Yes, I have decided to put you faithful Live Exhaust readers to the test. And see how well you know your body and how it works when you’re being entertained.

Here’s how you can participate. You can drop a comment or send an email including either the number or the corresponding sense from the list below, along with a brief explanation.

With the summer festival season in full swing, I will also be handing out question cards and talking with fans at upcoming festivals like Rothbury, Pitchfork and Lollapalooza, so if you’re heading out to either one of those festivals be sure to keep an eye out and stop me and tell me what you think.

Here’s the list:

1. Hearing
2. Sight
3. Touch
4. Smell
5. Taste

Be sure to check in as the votes come in over the next few weeks and we’ll see what you think is the most crucial sense needed in order to enjoy a live show.

Thinking ahead… if it came down to it, is there a sense you would give up if you had to?

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Live Music Experiment #1: What is the Most Important Sense?

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Live Music Experiment #1: What Is The Most Important Sense?


It’s begun!

I’m pleased to announce the first phase questionnaire that will begin a series of experiments examining the role and importance of the five senses at a live show.

After having several conversations with friends about what they think is the most important sense when it comes to enjoying a live show, I didn’t get any sort of general consensus on the senses. Whether it was a rock, hip hop or country show that my friends were recalling, I received a wide array of answers, making strong cases for ears, eyes, noses, taste buds and touch sensors.

And I now pose my question to you: What is the most important sense needed to enjoy a live show?

Yes, I have decided to put you faithful Live Exhaust readers to the test. And see how well you know your body and how it works when you’re being entertained.

Here’s how you can participate. You can drop a comment or send an email including either the number or the corresponding sense from the list below, along with a brief explanation.

With the summer festival season in full swing, I will also be handing out question cards and talking with fans at upcoming festivals like Rothbury, Pitchfork and Lollapalooza, so if you’re heading out to either one of those festivals be sure to keep an eye out and stop me and tell me what you think.

Here’s the list:

1. Hearing
2. Sight
3. Touch
4. Smell
5. Taste

Be sure to check in as the votes come in over the next few weeks and we’ll see what you think is the most crucial sense needed in order to enjoy a live show.

Thinking ahead… if it came down to it, is there a sense you would give up if you had to?

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