My three words for 2015: Simple. Focus. Give.

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It was extremely valuable to have three words to guide me last year so I’m going to do it again. My three words for 2015 are: Simple, Focus and Give.

Simple

For me this means that I’m aiming to add more simplicity to my life. As hard as that might be, that’s the goal I’m working towards. It’s not a destination. It’s a journey. Whether it’s relationships, finances, career or just the day-to-day flow of life I know that striving to live simple mentally, physically and spiritually is certainly something I want to strive for. This means that I’m aiming to make better decisions that add simplicity not complexity to my life, and I want to work at not dwelling on frivolous details when I don’t need to. I’m aiming to learn more from my past mistakes and trying to keep more of the big picture in mind and not get caught up in the little things that don’t matter in the long run. I’m aiming to measure my progress on this by removing clutter from my life and getting rid of things I no longer need whether it be possessions, projects, relationships, toxic habits or old ways of thinking that are holding me back. I hope to learn a lot through the process of trying to be simple in all areas of my life.

Focus

Whenever I’ve accomplished something meaningful in my life it was because I was focused on it. Really focused on it. I had tunnel vision (in a good way) and nothing else mattered besides what I was focused on. I picked “focus” because at times I’ve noticed myself getting distracted last year and I needed to re-focus in a few key areas of my life in this new year. The word also worked nicely with “simple” because it’s hard to stay focused if you’re not keeping things simple. I was inspired to select focus as one of my three words after reading (and rereading) the book Necessary Endings by Henry Cloud. In the excellent business book about learning how to know when to end things so you can move on and up in life, Cloud talks about how a rose bush needs to be pruned or it will die because a rose bush produces more life than it can sustain. That “rose bush” truth has really impacted and challenged me. I’ve shared that bit of wisdom with many people after I read the book because it drove home an important lesson. It helped me to understand why it’s critical to have the mental and emotional strength to remove unnecessary things from my life so I can truly focus on what matters. Because of this I know it’s important that I develop the skill of learning how to end things so I can thrive and grow into the person I was created to be. Since Cloud is a clinical psychologist, the book’s wisdom also helped me to better understand all the emotional reasons that might keep me from ending things that are slowing killing or holding me back. The skill of identifying what needs to end, and actually following through with it, is a skill I’m always working on and that’s why I picked “focus” as one of my words for 2015.

Give

I want to give more in 2015 than I did in 2014. I had a great time running 26.2 for a worthy cause and I want to do more of the same. I want to give more of my time, money and resources to others because I’ve been the blessed beneficiary of others who have given to me. I learned a lot about the value and importance of giving by reading the book Give and Take by Adam Grant. Appropriately, the book was given to me as a gift and it’s packed full excellent research, case studies and stories on how giving gives us more energy and inspiration to create, makes us better leaders and creates broader learning and career opportunities, and I want to put what I learned about giving into action. Like my other words, “Give” is related to focus because I want to focus my time and energy on giving back to causes and relationships that are important to me and others and hopefully the world will be a better place as a result.

Looking at my three words for 2015, I didn’t necessarily plan this, but I do like how they’re are related, interwoven and interdependent. I’m excited to have them this year because, like last year, having “three words” enables and empowers me with a strong sense of purpose, freedom and clarity. It keeps me honest. And I invite you to ask me how I’m doing. And I’d love to hear if you have three words too. As the year rolls on, I’ll share with you updates on what I’m learning as I continue to work at living these out.

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Reflecting On 26.2

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Have you ever wanted to do something you’ve never done before and really make it matter? And make it matter not just for you but for others too?

Well, I did. I ran the Chicago Marathon for these three reasons. It was an amazing adventure that changed my life. It was so sweet on so many levels. It challenged and transformed me. So here’s what I remember as I reflect back on the experience.

Running 26.2 miles was complex. It was a revelatory blur of emotional, mental and spiritual transformation. The experience altered my heart, mind and soul forever, but at the same time so many parts of the experience remain a mysterious enigma. I’m still figuring out why it changed me and what actually did change within me.

And that’s why I’m writing this post: to see what exactly I do remember in hindsight with the hope that through the writing process I might make sense of the mysterious parts and discover new truths. I also hope to inspire you to share and reflect on your own running adventures and embark on similar journeys.

So here’s my story.

Getting revved up

It was 45 degrees and sunny as a steady wind blew in off Lake Michigan. It was a near perfect morning for a race through the city. I remember standing in the start corral on Columbus Drive in downtown Chicago surrounded by thousands of my fellow runners. Here we all were about to do this crazy ceremonial and communal act of running 26.2 miles.

My heart and mind revved up. I was filled with all sorts of emotions. Feelings of joy and excitement bubbled up as I thought back to all the work and time that led up to this moment. I found myself thinking back to all those long runs along the Fox River and my three reasons why I was about to run 26.2 more miles to complete The Mission and head into uncharted territory.

My eyes began to well up as I look up at the gorgeous Chicago skyline reflecting the morning sunshine and felt a swelling surge of energy coming from the crowds all around me.

I was pumped and bursting with pride and excitement because I was about to embark on an adventure that I had never gone on before. And even better, I was going to run alongside my brother Joe and run this race for a great cause: to support my aunt in her struggle with Multiple Myeloma cancer.

Shedding the old and ceremonial acts

I did what a lot of other runners do before the race. I peeled off a layer of clothing and left behind my warm-up jacket in the start corral. But for me this moment was more than just losing some extra clothing. I had heard about this practice of tossing your warm up clothes from other runners and I wanted it to be a special moment for me. I wanted it to mean something.

Leaving behind my jacket was an intentional spiritual act. I had run many training runs in that jacket and for me it was a shedding of the old and heading out on a new journey of self-discovery.

So I unzipped my jacket, slipped out my arms, rolled it into a ball, closed my eyes and gave it a ceremonial kiss and held it up to the sky like a warrior offering a sacrifice hoping for a blessing from the heavens before heading into battle. Then as the corral started to slowly lurch forward like a herd of cattle I tossed the jacket on the ground.

I then took the obligatory pre-race selfie with my brother, did a couple short jumps up into the air like a boxer loosening up before a fight, let out a few rebel yells and got ready to run.

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Even though I ran more than 400 miles during training nothing could truly prepare me for the burst of adrenaline that flowed through me as we crossed the start line and began the race. It was hard to fight the urge to go out hard and fast. But I resisted the temptation and stuck to my plan: run my own race and just enjoy the moment.

It was such a wonderful way to experience the city of Chicago. For the first few miles running through the downtown loop among the tall towering and magnificent buildings and cruising through the neighborhoods made me proud to call Chicago my hometown. It was nothing short of awesome to feel the love from the swarming throngs of cheering people. I had a huge smile on my face as I ran by and read all the creative, funny and inspirational signs of encouragement. And I didn’t know a cowbell could be so inspiring! I couldn’t help but run along the sidelines and slap a few hive-fives and smack signs that said “Hit the button for running super powers!”

Mile 2: The Blind Runner made me see

Speaking of inspiring it was amazing to run past the blind runner and his guide at Mile 2. I loved how every runner yelled and cheered as we passed him. As I went by him I wondered…

What does it feel like to see nothing the entire race but only experience the smells and the sounds of the marathon?

What does it feel like to run blind and only trust a guide to lead you for 26 miles through the city?

Would I have done such a thing if I was blind?

How different would running be for me if I ran less with my eyes and more with my heart?

It was a beautiful metaphor to ponder for the next two miles as my legs got loose and my body warmed up.

Mile 3: What if life were like this?

At Mile 3 I turned to my brother and said ‘Wow, how cool would it be if life were more like this and people were cheering you on all the time as we traveled through our days?”

He then looked at me and said, “You do have that. It’s called family.”

Hmmm? I thought. Interesting response, because, yes we do have family, but honestly, life isn’t always like THIS. And life can be very lonely sometimes. We need to have more people cheering us on like THIS in life, I thought. We need more cowbells, slapping high-fives and “hit the power button” signs.

With that idea rolling around in mind I ran along I thought more about how I need to be more intentional in how I encourage other people. I felt a strong and unexpected conviction rise up in me. I realized that I need to work at encouraging people not at the biggest life moments and but also in those not-so-big-and-in-between life moments. I know I loved seeing all those signs and smiling faces as I ran along and once the race was over I knew I needed to return the favor back to people in my life.

So that was my second aha moment as I ran my first marathon. Thank you, Mr. Blind Runner. Thank you, thousands of cheering people on the sidelines. Only 4 miles in and two great learning moments. Not bad!

Mile 13: Running sideways and starting to feel it

And that’s where my mind was at, but how was my body doing? As I approached Mile 13 my legs felt more tired than usual. Looking back I think it was a combination of two things.

1) For the most part I did train on streets and pavement knowing the terrain of the Chicago Marathon but I will say that one thing that stood out was how different it is to run on the city streets. I don’t have any scientific  data or evidence, so all I can say is that it’s just different and I could really feel it in my legs.

2) The other thing that played a role was the fact that during the marathon I was rarely running straight for very long, especially in the first half. For much of the race I was bunched together with other runners I was doing a lot of weaving in and out, stopping and starting, speeding up and slowing down, and in some case I was actually hopping in between people in order to get ahead and find running paths. And I’m sure all that extra effort put extra pounding on my legs that added up. And that was a big reason why I felt more tired feeling around the halfway point. But what I didn’t expect was a big surge at mile 21. More about that in a bit.

Yes, I did have moments of doubts. I expected to. I intentionally trained without music and focused on using meditation and mindfulness concepts to quiet my mind. I learned a lot from reading this excellent book Running with the Mind of Meditation. This turned out to be one of my favorite parts and most valuable elements of my training as it helped me to cope with physical pain and mental obstacles like doubt, fear and uncertainty, all of which were major obstacles in the later stages.

Miles 14-16: Beyond the cheer zone and the race within the race

My first big wave of pain and doubt set in after the Mile 14 cheer zone. I would say that Miles 15-16 were some of the most solitary, quiet and contemplative too. As we left the mighty roar and inspiring adrenaline rush of the cheer zone behind us, you could feel the struggle set in and tension thicken in the air.

The emotional buzz of racing through the downtown din quickly wore off and I could feel and hear the murmur of the subconscious thoughts begin to bubble up and creep in. A strange sense of hyper-awareness came over me. I tried to run faster to run away from the unwanted thoughts but they were still there keeping pace with me. It was such a profound moment. It was the first time during the race that I felt like I was running away from something – and it was all happening in my mind.

It was a strangely surreal feeling to experience. It was like a race within a race. For a moment I forgot I was in the marathon and then I blinked a remembered I was running again.

The rhythm of the shoes pounding the pavement and synchronized breath of the runners around me thrusted me into a deeper contemplative flow. For a moment the fear of this thought chasing me went away and a new thought popped into my mind.

I realized I didn’t need to keep running from what was chasing me in my mind but instead I needed to slow down mentally and face what I was running from head on. I needed to let it catch me so I could conquer the fear I felt.

So I did let it catch me and this is what I found myself hearing as I slowed my mind down to listen…

Don’t let running be only about running from something or running to achieve something. Running is so much more than that. It’s about running to a new destination of self-discovery. It’s about being one person when you start and arriving back where you started as someone new.

It’s about being fearless and courageous enough to face the emotions and fears that bubble up while you’re running and not forgetting them once you stopping running but instead taking action in your life on those very thoughts.

And when you run with an open heart and mind you’re going to discover things about yourself that might be painful or terrify you to your core. But you must embrace it all. The good and bad. The joy and the fear. This is one of THE REASONS why you run, Chris: to face, cope with and conquer pain and fear in all areas of your life.

That was hard to hear because, for me, running is so often something I do to feel good and escape but it was a divine and sublime message that I needed to hear. And ever since I’ve continued to wrestle with those thoughts hoping to put them into action more in my life.

Miles 21-23: Into the unknown without my brother and why I love Pilsen

I didn’t expect what happened at Mile 20. To be honest, I didn’t really know what to expect beyond 20 miles. The plan was to run the entire race with my brother but it didn’t work out that way. At around Mile 21 my brother had some issues with his leg and waved me on to go on ahead without him.

“Are you sure?” I asked.

“Yes, go!” he yelled waving his hand.

So on I went in to Pilsen and into Chinatown.

Then came one of my favorite moments of the marathon: running through the hispanic neighborhood of Pilsen. I will always remember the glorious thumping, pumping and pounding of the tubas, drums and guitars coming from the mariachi bands.

I know this might sound weird but I didn’t really hit “The Wall.” at Mile 20. I expected to but it never happened. During miles 20 through 24 I felt a surge of energy I didn’t expect. And I’m sure it’s no mistake that those mariachi bands are at this point in the race, and I tip my hat and say thanks to the race directors for the strategic placement of the tuba and mariachi by the race directors. I sure needed those tubas then and I will never forget how it all made me feel.

Miles 24-25: MMA fights and baptisms

At Mile 24 and 25 the physical side of myself was so broken down and my emotions and mind were so raw and unavoidable. I could no longer hide behind what my body could do. I was running on pure emotion, grit and will. All of my fears, doubts and anxieties were right there taunting, poking and punching me. It’s was like a violent and twisted MMA fight inside my body and mind. It was hard to separate the external cheers from the internal jeers and vice versa.

From that point on it was a series of rapid-fire visceral and mental and physical thrashings. I had no choice but to dig down and find a deeper level of spiritual contemplation and emotional revelation. A lot of weird thoughts went through my mind. I was coming to the end of my physical self and I literally thought about everything in my life. My wife, my son, my daughter that’s on the way, my job at Walgreens, my dad who passed away in 2010. My successes and my failures. It all rushed at me, full force.

Back and forth the inner battle went. Sometimes my body was crying out wanting to quit and other times my mind was screaming ENOUGH! I felt great then…I felt like shit. But I fought through it knowing that each of those moments were only a temporary moment of doubt and pain.

Then suddenly I remembered what I read in George Sheehan’s classic book Running and Being, where he sagely says that running and going beyond our physical self in a marathon and pushing ourselves beyond our physical and spiritual limits is like an act of holy sanctification, our sweat is like a baptism and the whole experience is a rebirth and cleansing of the soul. I then felt the sticky and sweat drenched shirt clinging to my chest, arms and back. I smiled and looked up to the heavens. Took a deep breath and my mind calmed back down. I acknowledge the pain I was feeling, accepted it and ran on through it.

I was pretty pumped up as I neared the end of the marathon. It’s was hard not to be. And at Mile 25 got lost in the moment. I remember grabbing a banana from the aid station, then downing some water. I remember slapping someone another high-five.

For a moment I forgot where I was on the course. Then I had this enormous sense of self-awareness come over me. Then at the same time everyone around me faded away and it was as if it was as I was the only one running the marathon. It was like I was floating above the pavement.

It was a beautiful thing. It was a spectacular spiritual moment to behold.

Moments like this don’t happen to often, so for a few steps I closed my eyes, kicked my head back and extended my arms to my side like a soaring plane. I put my palms up and smiled up at the sky as I felt the sunshine hitting my face and soaked in the glory of the moment. And on I went to the final mile.

Mile 26: Completing THE MISSION and scaring ladies

I opened my eyes and had my game face on. I quickened my pace. It was time to finish THE MISSION. Heading into the final stretch I felt emotionally spent but spiritually strong. I felt physically tired but still searching for something more and wanting to see what I could do beyond my physical and emotional means.

I loved the final moments of the marathon and the only real downside to this moment was that I scared a few other runners as I cranked out and powered through the last mile. I let out a few tribal yells (including a few fist-pumping F-bombs and extra curse words to push myself.)

That said, I’d like to take a moment to say sorry to the two runners I scared. Sorry, ladies. I hope I didn’t startle you too much as I came up behind you as we all scurried down Michigan avenue and turned on to Columbus Drive and made our way to the finish line. I hope you both weren’t too scared and had a great finish to your race.

Beyond 26.2: New behaviors, real life challenges and what’s next

I took about a week off after the marathon. Yes, I was sore and hobbling right after the race. About halfway through Monday I started to feel better and I took my first post-marathon run on Friday and felt pretty good.

As I recovered I stuck to my training diet (which is now what I normally eat) and ate the usual mix of recovery food which for me included protein shakes, fish oil pills, chia seeds, greek yogurt, quinoa, etc. And as a bonus, I’ve continued to eat quinoa and chia seeds before and after runs which I didn’t before and I feel great.

Since the marathon, I’ve also had many moments in my personal life and at work where life has challenged me and I’ve looked back at my marathon experience for strength, clarity and inspiration. And I love the fact that I’ve been able to do transfer my marathon experience in to real life moments because that’s exactly what I was hoping this whole adventure would do. I wanted to do something I’ve never done before so that I could use the experience to overcome challenges in other areas of my life.

So what’s next? Well, I’ve been planning my next race adventure as I look at doing a trail run or half marathon in 2015 and maybe even an ultra in the near future.

I hope my marathon story has inspired you to run a marathon or do something you’ve never done before. I hope it’s inspired you to not only do something like this for yourself but do it to support others and to connect with the world around you and the world and feelings that are inside of you.

I can’t say enough how honored I feel to have had the opportunity to make my training and marathon matter beyond myself and support the MMRF and my aunt Angie. Because of that, there’s one question I’ve really pondering; “how can I make each run count?” I don’t want to be the only person to benefit from running, training and racing. I want my physical activity to help make the world a better place.

That said, since the marathon I’ve been experimenting with and planning on doing a few things.

1. I’ve been using the Charity Miles running app. So far I’ve enjoyed using it and each run I do I get to pick a different charity to support. It’s a pretty cool app and I love the concept and like my Fitbit experiment I’ll be sharing a full review and thoughts on the Charity Miles app in the future.

2. I’m planning on volunteering for a race. In his book “Eat and Run,” Scott Jurek encourages all runners to give back and volunteer at a race and I’m looking at organizations like Chicago Run and local races to donate my time and efforts to help others.

3. I know I need to connect more with other runners. Running is such a solitary sport and it feeds my natural introvert tendencies. So I need to be intentional about seeking out community. I really miss the meaningful experience I had training and running the marathon with my brother and because of that I’m aiming to connect more with other runners and get involved with more group runs and local running groups.

Well, that’s it for now. I’ll be sure to share more as I continue to reflect and hit the road and running trails. Congrats to all my fellow Chicago marathon runners and I hope to hear about your experiences too, and I invite you to share them in the comments below.

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Live Fix Radio Episode 38: New Live Albums from Eels and Mumford & Sons

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On this episode of Live Fix Radio we’re paying tribute to the fiery live performance of late Chicago bluesman Magic Slim, and sharing highlights and stories from the new releases by Mumford & Sons and Eels. Rock on and thanks for listening!

Subscribe via iTunes.

Show Notes

News and other cool stuff we talked about:

  • Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z’s  summer tour
  • Adelle performs Skyfall first time live at Oscars

 

Music featured during the show:

 

Got a thought on this show or an awesome idea for a future episode of Live Fix Radio? Drop a comment below or share your feedback and concert stories with us on Twitter @livefixmediaFacebook , Google Plus, or call the concert fan hotline at 773-609-4341.

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Concert Infographic: 50 Years Of Touring By The Rolling Stones

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Continuing our infographic exploration, here’s a cool collection of infographics via  Fast Company Design inspired by 50 Years of Touring by the Rolling Stones. This is the design from the 1994 tour, click here to see the entire collection.

Have you seen The Rolling Stones live? Drop us a comment below and let us know how this infographic brings back memories and we’ll share your story on a future episode of Live Fix Radio.

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Live Fix Radio Episode 37: Super Bowl Halftime History and Real Concert Crowd Sourcing

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On this episode of Live Fix Radio we’re exploring the past, present and future of the Super Bowl halftime show and thinking about what sort of copy-catting Beyonce might be up to during this year’s show. We’ll also riff on Pepsi’s attempt at crowd-sourcing and compare that with examples of real concert crowd-sourcing. Rock on and thanks for listening!

Subscribe via iTunes.

Show Notes:

News and other cool stuff we talked about:

 

 

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Beyonce’s Big Game Gig Originality Issues and Real Concert Crowdsourcing

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Okay, after yesterday’s press conference we now know that Beyonce can belt out the National Anthem acapella, which if you’re wondering, is one of the hardest songs to sing.

Hey, at least Beyonce didn’t try to lipsync over Whitney Houston‘s legendary verson of the National Anthem during the inauguration, or do something like Christina Aguilera did.

 

 

Will Beyonce’s Halftime Show Be Truly Original?

But as we get ready for her halftime show, I’m wondering about our previous exploration that questioned Beyonce’s live show originality.

In that originality exploration we took a deeper look at similarities between an artist being inspired or being a copycat.

It’s a controversial and provocative topic that influences almost all of our live music experiences and challenges us to really think about our favorite concert moments and why (and how) those moments move us, even when the artist isn’t being that original.

And I couldn’t help but think about Beyonce’s Billboard Awards story in the wake of the lip-syncing fiasco. Maybe this story will resurface after Sunday?

Maybe Beyonce will “borrow” from past shows to inspire Sunday’s show performance and set design? We’ll have to wait and see.

And as I watch our son Calvin develop, I’ve also thought about how Beyonce’s performance will be inspired by her daughter Blue Ivy?

What will be going through Blue Ivy’s mind and heart as she watches her mom entertain millions of people for 12 minutes?

Will Beyonce be teaching her daughter to rock out like this?

Is Pepsi Really Crowdsourcing the Super Bowl?

The other thing I was thinking about was the crowdsourcing element to this year’s half time show as Pepsi invites fans to submit photos to be included in the introduction of the Beyonce performance.

Of course, it’s not going to be anything close to our interactive Google Plus idea we suggested last year, but at least what Pepsi is doing is semi-social and sort-of interactive.

And according to ClickZ, the fans who win the Pepsi contest will get a chance to soak in the show on one of live music’s biggest stages:

The grand prize includes round-trip airfare, hotel accommodations, ground transportation, and $500 cash. Grand prize winners and their guests must participate in the Super Bowl halftime show practice in order to be present on the field during the halftime show. The prize does not include tickets to the Super Bowl XLVII game and Pepsi says winners will not have access to view the live game.

In order to promote the campaign, @Pepsi, which has 1.1 million followers, is tweeting with the hashtag #PepsiHalftime. Pepsi is also using promoted tweets and pulling in tweets with #PepsiHalftime and #LiveforNow on Pepsi.com.

 

 What Is Real Concert Crowdsourcing?

But, again, is what Pepsi is doing really crowdsourcing? And does this really benefit the fans or the evolve the live music experience? What is real concert crowdsourcing? How can crowdsourcing be used to tell amazing, diverse and unique fan stories like these?

We won’t answer those questions now, but in the meantime you can check out these great examples of concert crowdsourcing and tell me if you think Pepsi should have done something like this.

We hope you enjoy the Big Game and the halftime festivites and we look forward to sharing our experiences on the next episode of Live Fix Radio!

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Watch Ra Ra Riot Debut New “Beta Love” Tunes Live On YouTube

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In case you missed it, last night Ra Ra Riot performed live at the Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn and the festivities where livestreamed on YouTube. The show celebrated the release of the band’s new album “Beta Love” and kicks of their upcoming tour.

 

 

Now you can watch the performance for a limited time here or via the player above.

While I was watching the show I was definately enjoying the synthy swaying of the new tunes and thinking about these previous Live Fix Ra Ra Riot explorations. The in-between song chatter of lead singer Wes Miles was funny and entertaining, and gave fans a peek inside his heart and mind as he shared how he was feeling as the concert unfurled.

And since the show featured a new lineup I was also thinking of how the band chemistry, dynamics and artist emotions were unfolding and evolving onstage for this first show.

I hope you enjoy the show too and let us know what you think of it in the comments below, and we’ll share your experience on a future episode of Live Fix Radio.

SETLIST
1. Too Too Too Fast
2. Shadowcasting
3. Binary Mind
4. Oh, La
5. Beta Love
6. Angel Please
7. Too Dramatic
8. St. Peter’s Day Festival
9. Is It Too Much
10. Dance With Me
11. Can You Tell
12. When I Dream
13. For Once
14. Two Hearts Beat As One
15. Run My Mouth
16. Ghost Under Rocks
17. Boy

(Encore)
18. Dying Is Fine
19. I Shut Off

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Live Fix Radio: 12-12-12 Sandy Relief Show and The Impact of Benefit Concerts

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On this episode of Live Fix Radio we’re exploring stories from the 12-12-12 Sandy Relief concert, looking back at other historical benefit shows and their psychological impact, and sharing tips on how you can host your own concert to support a worthy cause. Rock on and thanks for listening!

Subscribe via iTunes.

Show Notes:

Segment one: News and other cool stuff we talked about:

  • Rebecca Black’s first concert experience
  • A brief history of concert protest and push-back in St. Petersburg
  • Madonna tells her fans to stop smoking during a sound check?

Segment two (21:00): Highlights from the 12-12-12 show, history of and tips on benefit concerts

Segment three (53:42): Cold Play “Live 2012” and Green Day’s “Quatro” movie

Tunes and fan media featured during the show
  • Paul McCartney & Nirvana – “Cut Me Some Slack”
  • Concert for Bangladesh – Live at MSG
  • Alicia Keys – “Brand New Kind of Me” – Live at 12-12-12 Sandy Relief  Concert

Other cool stuff we shared and talked about:

 

Share your concert experiences and thoughts about this podcast in the comments below, on Twitter @livefixmedia, on Facebook, Google Plus, or call the concert fan hotline at 773-609-4341, and we’ll include them in a future episode of Live Fix Radio.

 

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How Did Hurricane Sandy Impact Live Music And The Fan Experience?

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In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy I started to wonder what the impact would be on the live music industry and the fan experience. Who would be hit the hardest? The fans? Bands? Venue owners?

As I thought about how live music has helped fans and band process grief and loss, I also started to wonder How would live music be used to help people recover physically and emotionally?

What live music experiences would bands and fans have as they navigate the emotional aftermath of Sandy?

Would live music play the role it did in the wake of 9/11, or other tragic events?

Of course, the answers to those questions will take time to answer, and as I looked for answers to those questions I wanted to share a few stories that have begun to shed light on those issues.

Stories About Sandy Impact, Benefit Concert History

First up is this Billboard story that explains a few insurance scenarios:

Most venues don’t carry insurance for loss of revenue due to a weather cancelation, Bassman says, though policies differ widely. “Some venues may carry ‘loss of utilities’ coverage, however there are so many different kinds of insurance coverage, it just depends on what they carry,” he says.

Force majeure, or “act of God,” clauses in contracts cover stakeholders on both sides of the talent buyer-entertainer equation. “Depending on how it’s worded, something like this would typically invoke the force majeure clause, and the [promoter] would not have to pay the guarantee to the artist,” says Bassman. “But [the promoter] would still be out all kinds of money for marketing and promotion, not to mention lose out on the profit potential for that show.”

Big companies like Live Nation, AEG Live, and Bowery Presents — the three most active in the New York metropolitan area — are well-insulated from serious weather events, Bassman says. “It’s the one-time promoter that’s going to get crushed.”

Next is this Huffington Post story about the unfortunate scalping situation that has occured leading up to the upcoming 12-12-12 Madison Square Garden Sandy Benefit concert this week.

“Every dollar spent for these concert tickets should go to help the victims of Superstorm Sandy – not to line the pocket of unscrupulous scalpers,” Senator Schumer said in an statement. “Ticket resale websites have the opportunity to make it much more difficult for scalpers to make money of this charitable event, and they should seize it.”

Currently, tickets are listed on StubHub for as much as $27,175. With the highest face-value price of a ticket reaching $2,500, scalpers are in a position to make an enormous profit. While StubHub is donating its service fees and commissions to the Robin Hood Foundation, it isn’t regulating the reselling of tickets. NYT reports that StubHub’s spokesman, Glenn Lehrman, said about the company’s decision, “This is going to take place regardless of whether we enable it or somebody else does, and at least by us enabling it, we can give a good portion to charity.”

Ticketmaster’s resale sites, however, are not allowing tickets for 12-12-12 to be sold.

“We proactively blocked all posts for 12-12-12 as is our policy for charitable events,” a representative for TicketsNow and TicketExchange said in an email.

Then I came across this Rollingstone.com article that puts the questionable history of benefit concert in perspective and explains how the industry has learned from the past and hopes to make the 12-12-12 concert all about helping tell the story of those who are still in need:

In addition to raising money, organizers hope the concert will educate the country about the full extent of the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy. “People don’t realize there’s a very long tail of impact from this hurricane,” says Sykes. “There was the initial damage, but now you have homeless people in New York that are headed into a winter with below-freezing temperatures. These people have nowhere to go. You have homes lost, families torn apart, and these people have nowhere to go.”

The big benefit concerts of the 1970s were notorious for wasteful spending, but that won’t be the case this time around, organizers insist. “The concert business has learned from the mistakes of the past,” says Sykes. “When you have a group like the Robin Hood [Foundation] in New York City, where the entire overhead of the organization is paid for by the board members, that means 100 percent of the funds raised on that concert will go to the people that need it.”

 

12-12-12 Sandy Relief Concert

To wrap up the post, here’s info about the 12-12-12 Benefit concert taking place this Wendesday at 7:30pmEST including below a list of places online and TV where you can watch from the comfort of your home.

From Kanye West to Bruce Springsteen, there’s going to be a lot of stars performing and to get you ready for the show, here’s a list of previous Live Fix explorations that’ll take you deeper into how their live shows have moved us and other concert fans have used live music and the concert community to cope with loss and recover.

Share Your Sandy Stories

As always our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone impacted by Sandy. We want to continue to explore this and we’d love to hear about your stories too. Tell us how Sandy has impacted your live music experiences and we’ll share them on a future episode of Live Fix Radio.

 

Television

Amctv.com
AOL
Clear Channel Media and Entertainment
Clear Channel Outdoor
Cookingchannel.com
Crackle
epixHD.com
EW.com
Foxmoviechannel.com

Fuse.tv
Hulu
Ifc.com
iHeartRadio
InStyle.com
Livewellnetwork.com
MTV.com
My Space
Ovationtv.com

People.com
SiriusXM Radio
Sundancechannel.com
Time.com
Vevo
VH1.com
Wetv.com
Yahoo
YouTube

US TELEVISION CHANNELS

AMC
AXS TV
BIO
Bloomberg
CBS
Cooking Channel
Destination America
Discovery Fit & Health
ENCORE
EPIX
FX Movie Channel
FEARnet
Fuse
G4

Hallmark Movie Channel
HBO
HBO Latino
IFC
ION Television
Lifetime Real Women
Live Well Network
Military History
MSG
MSG Plus
MUNDOFOX
NJTV

Palladia
PlumTV
SHOWTIME 2
Smithsonian Channel
Sundance Channel
THIRTEEN
VH1 Classic
WEtv
WLIW
WLNY
WPSG/The CW Philly
Wealth TV

 

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Bruce Springsteen And His “Sunny Day” Sing-a-long Tour With Tweens

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Our Bruce Springsteen exploration continues as we take you through a series of concert videos showing how The Boss is connecting with a new generation of fans one tween at a time.

I first heard about Springsteen bringing a tween on stage to sing “Waiting on Sunny Day” during his show at Wrigely Field in September. Then I took a stroll through the interwebs and discovered Chicago wasn’t the only city that Springsteen was pulling young fans from the front row to help lead the crowd in a moving Sunny Day sing-a-long.

Here’s a collection of videos from around the world this year and some of the back stories that surfaced after concerts in Chicago and Toronto.

First up is the 10-year-old fan Brianna who joined Bruce on stage at Wrigley Field in Chicago (video above). Chicagonow.com shared the story and then shortly after Brianna’s mom Mary posted a comment.  I wonder what it was like for both Brianna and Mary to experience such a moment. Maybe it was similiar to Rich’s story or these mom’s stories?

Halle in Toronto

Next up is Halle from the Toronto show. Now this story was interesting because of all the kids in these videos Halle’s performance sounded the most polished and surprisingly beyond her years. And it wasn’t a fluke because, as Kat Langdon, explains on her blog, Halle has already begun to develop her live performance chops.

Let’s back up a bit. Halle has been a vocal student of mine for just under a year. She’s a smart, modest 10-year old girl with a strong voice and a kind heart. We met during the production of Joseph in November, she was a member of the youth ensemble.

 

Neveah in LA

Then in LA it was Neveah and her grandparents who had this to say in the comments on the YouTube video.

Our darling little grandaughter Nevaeh at her first Bruce concert. After the song Bruce came back over and asked how old she was and after hearing she was 4 he stated “youngest member of the E Street Band ever.”

 

 

From Philly to Paris and Beyond

Here are the rest of the vidoes from the other cities.  If your the parent of any of these kids, we invite you to tells us more about your story and drop a comment below and we’ll share it on a future episode of Live Fix Radio.

The other reason I am excited to share these videos is because it’s got me thinking about a few other things.

1) For the tweens that were girls, how will that moment impact the psychological and emotional development knowing how women experience live music.

2) For the moms who were there to witness the concert in person with their kids, how this moment rank in their favorite concert experiences? Will it be like the live music memories of these moms?

3) What will become of the kids? Will they turned out to be just as amazing and rockin’ as these kids performers?

4) And now that Colleen and I are proud parents of Calvin, I wonder what it will be like to take our son Calvin to his first concert.  What will unfold during his first live music experience? And how will that moment change his  and our lives forever?

 

Philly

 

New Jersey

 

Zurich

 

Washington D.C. 

 

Paris

 

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A New Concert Fan Is Born: What Will Baby Calvin Experience?

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I’m beyond excited to share the news that this week we welcomed a new concert fan in to the world!

While many of you were rocking out at your favorite shows on Tuesday night our first child Calvin Christopher made his grand entrance onto the world’s stage.

Over the last nine months I’ve thought a lot about how this little amazing dude would change our lives forever. And even before that, as you can see below, my curiousity has taken me down some very interesting paths as I wondered about how live music influences, impacts and inspires the growth of babies and children, and how parents and families evolve through the process too.

Here are some of the thoughts that have been running through my mind. It’s a mix of posts and Live Fix Radio episodes that feature chats about the relationship between babies, kids, families and live music.

We’ll be sharing more about our concert experiences with Calvin, and until then, go ahead and dive into these explorations and post your responses to the questions in the comments below.

What About These Thoughts?

  • What show should be Calvin’s first?
  • How will the shows, like this one and this one, that we went to while Calvin was still cooking in the oven influence his love for live music?
  • How do parents who are concert fans introduce live music to their kids?
  • What was the first show that you experienced with your kids?
  • What type of live music experiences did you have while you were pregnant?

Check out these explorations:

 

 

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5 Elements Of The Perfect Concert Mobile App

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stagepage mobile app

 

We know that mobile is changing live music. But how are mobiles apps evolving? Are they evolving in the right way?

Let’s take look and see with this quick trip through this Billboard article by Elliot Van Busskirk. Then I’ll offer up a 5 Elements that I think should be on the perfect concert mobile app.

The Billboard article focuses on 5 apps that are empowering fans, bands and venues owners to get more engagement out of the concert experience. Since we’ve explored the senses many times before, my favorite part of the article is the section about using apps to measure our body’s physical response to live music.

Measuring movement is an easy one. A band could also lend out gizmos for measuring heartrate, skin moisture, eye direction, or anything else the body does as a response to music, and use that as another input to then feed back into the music, lights, or both. My favorite litmus test for music is anything that makes my arm hairs stand up on end, but that’s just one of the body’s biological responses to liking, hating, or otherwise experiencing music. Doodads that can measure that stuff are getting cheaper all the time — or, if they’re not, a band could select just a few fans to get these devices, or maybe require that you let them hold your driver’s license. The point is: biofeedback, even though it’s sort of creepy, could make shows a lot more fun while literally getting the fans more involved.

 

Are We On The Right Path?

Elliot and these app developers are on the right path, but after reading the article and thinking through our other mobile experiments I’ve been wondering about a few things.

If we could create the perfect concert mobile app, what would be the most important elements?

What kind of concert app would revolutionize the concert experience and successfully meet the concert fans, bands and venues owners?

Is it even possible to do so?

I think so.

To begin answering those questions, I did some digging and came across these thoughts about creative thinking and innovative product design Daniel Pink who says in his book A Whole New Mind:

Not just function but also DESIGN. It’s no longer sufficient to create a product, a service, an experience, or a lifestyle that’s merely functional. Today it’s economically crucial and personally rewarding to create something that is also beautiful, whimsical, or emotionally engaging.

Not just accumulation but also MEANING. We live in a world of breathtaking material plenty. That had freed hundreds of people from day-to day struggles and liberated us to pursue more significant desires: purpose, transcendence, and spiritual fulfillment.

 

What Do Fans Really Want (And Need)?

I like what Pink says in other parts of his book about incorporating meaning into the creative mix because I’ve had several chats with fans and app developers like Alex with StagePage about how a well designed mobile app should allow fan to get more significance from their concert experiences.

In those fan chats one of the things that we always agree upon is that eventually in the near future, fans will quickly start to ask questions like “What does it all mean? I can take a video during a show, so what? Why did I want to snap a photo during that song and not the other? Why was I so emotional during that song? How can I explain to friends and family why and how that show changed my life?”

This are all questions I think about all the time. And I’m sure many of you have begun to ask them already in various ways.

And I predict that seeking our more meaning and significance to our concert experiences and wanting to share those emotional discoveries with our friends and family will be an emerging trend and more fans will desire to derive meaning from our concert experiences.

And that’s why we need to start thinking of ways to help fans put more meaning to the millions of videos, tweets and photos they’re producing during shows.

Here They Are

So I’d like to continue our mobile exploration and answer some of my earlier questions by sharing 5 elements I believe should be used to create the perfect concert mobile app:

1. Make it simple to measure and record. In order to foster adoption, the perfect concert mobile app should ask users to take simple steps that are a natural part of the concert experience. Give fans a way to easily enter our mood and emotions before, during and after a show. Simplicity is key to any mobile app, especially when you’re trying to get concert fans to take specific actions.

The best task management apps do a great job of making it simple to quickly record information and make it easy to retrieve it later.  I’ve been following other experiments like this one and I hope this type of mood-tracking functionality gets included in the perfect concert app.

And besides making it simple to use, this app should be fun, viral and social. More on that in a moment.

2. Make the data meaningful. Put the data in context so fans can understand how the music is making us feel during the show and how that single moment changed our life.

I’ve been experimenting with Fitbit and I love how the process of looking at my health data helps to put my other daily habits in context with a simply dashboard.

We should do something similar for concert fans.  And if bands and venues owners could access use a mobile app to get more accurate behavioral analytics about their fans during shows that would be a game-changer too.

3. Gamify.  The psychological power of using games has been proven successful in many industries and disciplines. And the concert experience has numerous opportunities to make going to a concert one of the most engaging and addictive gamified moments in our lives.

Whether it’s loyalty points and rewards offered by venue owners for fans who check-in using functionality similar to Foursquare, or letting fans compete against each other during shows for completing certain actions, we need a concert app that gamifies the live music experience and adds value too.

4. Make it social. We know the power of using social media during concerts, so this element is a no-brainer to include on this list. However, I do mention it because we’ve only just begun to realize the true potential of social media within the concert experience. And I’m talking about creating a new type of social experience with this app.

Just imagine if fans started sharing  and tweeting contextual emotional data during shows. But instead of it just being hard and meaningless data, we were able to tell a story with it and enable concert fans to share their unique story – what and why they felt the way they did during a show – with their friends, family and fellow fans.

Now that would be something!

If I could go-back and take a mood-enhanced and emotional data-enriched snapshot that showed me how the music, the crowd and my emotional response all contributed to create the “wow” during the show, I would love to see what an experience like that would reveal to me about what I felt during my favorite shows.

That’s something I would love to share on my social networks. And a story like that is way more engaging and viral than just the normal tweeting we already see during shows.

That’s why we need to have a mobile app that transforms what “being social” means during a concert. And we can do that with emotional and contextual storytelling with the perfect concert mobile app.

5. Tell a story.  We’ve already touched on this element, but I mentioned it again because this fifth element is the most important as it relies on the seamless integration of the previous four.

However big or small, the app should combine all the other 4 elements to tell the fan something new and emotionally meaningful about themselves or the other fans around them.

Whether it’s a simple data dashboard, competitive leader boards, badges, the story should be the data, a contextualization and a synthesis and synchronization of all the previous four elements.

And by bringing all these elements together we will give the concert fan the ability to understand themselves better, get more meaning fromt their concert experiences and give fans the ability to tell a complete story that can’t be told anywhere else.

If there’s one thing that I’ve learned over the year on Live Fix, it’s that we all love to listen to and tell stories. And concerts are full of stories. And the perfect concert mobile app would be an excellent storytelling machine.

What We Really Need

We’re dreamers and visionaries here at Live Fix and without a doubt these 5 elements I believe are the future of concert apps.

Yes, these are concepts. And some of these might be hard to pull off right now. But you can’t deny the fact that we have a great opportunity to engage concert fans in a way that in new and exciting.

We don’t need another concert mobile app that syncs with our iTunes playlist or finds the closest concert. There’s enough of those clogging up our mobile phones already.

We need a concert app that will truly empower fans, bands and venue owners. We need a concert app that will push the concert experience forward.

I believe we aren’t that far away from seeing an app developed that has all these 5 elements.

And once we do create the perfect concert mobile app, I wish we could go back and use it to explore and rediscover these concert fans stories again in a whole new way.

What About You?

What apps are you enjoying? What would you add to our list of features on the perfect concert app?

Share your mobile app concert experiences and thoughts in the comments below, or call the concert fan hotline at 773-609-4341, and we’ll include them in a future episode of Live Fix Radio.

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3 Things I Learned About Kenny Chesney’s Live Show at 30,000 Feet

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kenny chesney live show quotes

 

I love it when I read something about an artist that gives me a new perspective on their music. And it’s even better when what I read also makes me want to go see them live.

I had one of these moments on a recent plane trip to Austin when I was thumbing through United’s Hemisphere inflight magazine that included an interview country music star Kenny Chesney.

I snapped three pictures from the interview to share with you because it was these quotes from Chesney that got me thinking differently about his live show.

kenny chesney live concert quotes

I love the quotes because they explore three important topics:

1) his dedication to entertaining his diehard fans

2) his approach to winning over new fans

3) how he seeks intimacy with his fan and is transitioning to the next phase of his touring career.

kenny chesney live concert quotes

 

And as I was soaring back to Chicago at 30,000 feet I gazed out the window and thought about our Johnny CashTaylor Swift, Keith UrbanLady Gaga and Wilco experiments. How does Chesney compare to those artists?

And if I was flying on Southwest instead of United maybe Chesney would have done a secret show like Mat Kearney did.

Check out Chesney’s quotes and let me know what you think.

Chesney fans, tell us about your favorite favorite concert moments and we’ll share them on a future episode of Live Fix Radio.

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It’s Coming…Primus Plots Fall 3D Tour

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primus 3d tour

 

Looks like our 3D concert exploration just got some more fodder thanks to Primus.

Yep. According to the Primus website:

Primus will embark on the first-ever traveling 3D-enhanced musical performance this fall. Featuring two sets per evening, each show will also boast Quad Surround Sound.

Tour dates are below and until Primus tosses us more info, let’s share some stories.

What do you hope to experience and not experience during the 3D tour? How can bands mix in 3D without taking away from the music?  Will this be similar to the Tupac hologram experience?

Some more 3D experiment fodder to stoke your imagination:

 

Primus fans, tell us about your favorite favorite concert moments and we’ll share them on a future episode of Live Fix Radio.

 

Tour Dates:

Fri-Oct-12 Poughkeepsie, NY Mid Hudson Civic Center
Sat-Oct-13 Burlington, VT Memorial Auditorium
Mon-Oct-15 Washington, DC The Fillmore
Tue-Oct-16 Wilkes Barre, PA Kirby Center
Wed-Oct-17 Philadelphia, PA Tower Theater
Fri-Oct-19 New York NY Hammerstein
Sat-Oct-20 Boston, MA Orpheum Theater
Sun-Oct-21 Providence, RI Veterans Memorial Aud
Tue-Oct-23 Niagra Falls, NY Rapids Theater
Wed-Oct-24 Detroit, MI Fillmore
Fri-Oct-26 Asheville, NC Moogfest
Sat-Oct-27 Indianapolis, IN Murat Theater
Sun-Oct-28 St Louis, MO Peabody Opera House
Tue-Oct-30 Cincinnati, OH Taft Theater
Wed-Oct-31 Atlanta, GA The Tabernacle
Fri-Nov-02 Kansas City, MO Uptown
Sat-Nov-03 Denver, CO The Fillmore
Sun-Nov-04 Wichita, KS Cotillion Ballroom
Mon-Nov-05 Dallas, TX McFarlin
Wed-Nov-07 Austin, TX Bass Hall
Fri-Nov-09 Orlando, FL The Hard Rock
Sat-Nov-10 Miami, FL Fillmore

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