For some it's anxiety manifesting, for others it's considered preparation, but for anyone freelancing, over-planning exists. It's not a part of life, it's how we live our lives (I mean, come ON, who else pays their taxes in advance?!).Read More
It's been awhile since I last checked in. While in Australia I mentioned that I didn't want that big adventure to be my last major "leap of faith" to happen in 2016. Where here I am, eight months later, and things are happening. Since we last talked I've changed jobs, lost my last two grandparents, stood by her side as my best friend since kindergarten said "I Do," and had a few minor freakouts that led to my favorite band's lead singer's handwriting being permanently outlined on my skin. It's a season of change, people, and in the last month, there's been a few more additions to that list.
After six years, countless concerts, thousands of photographs, and a whole lot of fun, another major change has been deciding it’s time to say goodbye to Ultra5280. As someone who’s first passion was writing and later assumed I’d go to school for photography, Ultra5280 became my treasured creative outlet when I chose to academically focus on music instead. Even while watching Blink-182 recently, I found myself analyzing the show, taking mental notes like I was going to go home and write – it’s pretty clear my love for celebrating music through words and photographs will never die. The Ultra team has been family to me, and I’m excited to watch them continue to grow from the sidelines. I'm so thankful that Robert Castro took a chance on a wily college freshmann, giving me a platform to grow my skills and share my passion while having adventures I could have only dreamed of. Saying I’m thankful is an understatement.
I couldn’t stay away from music journalism if I tried, (insert Arnold’s “I’ll be baaackk” quote) so this isn’t my finale, but it’s time I re-learn how to prioritize “me” while exploring what I want my next chapter of life to look like.
Speaking of next chapters…I’m heading back out on the road. I’m thrilled to get back to tour life, and honored to get to do so with a spectacularly talented group of Brits. I really hope this time out will be clarifying, mind opening, and answer some offers I've been looking for.
For the better part of the last year and a half, I've struggled internally trying to understand if my passion for tour is something I needed to chase more intently, or if that season of life had passed. I needed to be home for the last year. For me, for family, for that wedding, to truly work through some major life moments. But now the dust has settled, and the things that were holding me in Denver have slowly dissipated – it's time for me to get back to my quest of working to find my next path. Do I stay on the road? Do I move to LA? Do I stay in Denver and work to find new ways to pursue my passions in this city? No more wondering "if", it's time for me to explore these questions, make a decision, and just go.
In the past I’ve blogged while on tour and will try to keep up this round as well. Regardless, this website will host any writing or photos I create while on my editorial sabbatical, so hopefully you'll see more updates more often on this here little page.
To celebrate my time at Ultra5280, I've compiled a few of my favorite things I've written for the blog, and photographs I've taken.
- FIRST SHOW COVERED FOR ULTRA5280: Yeah, Great, Fine with Mr. Right and Popcult at Moe's BBQ. "What's a Popcult?" This is the first time my byline appeared on the Ultra5280 site.
- FAVORITE "ULTRA5280 SESSIONS": I Fight Dragons. Once upon a time we did a video interview series called "Ultra5280 Sessions," hosted by yours truly. This is one of my favorites because it was my first time seeing the boys live, and I went on to then tour the country with them - twice!
- FAVORITE SXSW INTERVIEW: Kris Orlowski sitting on a street corner after playing phone tag all day. We laughed. We joked. It was the most fun I've ever had interviewing someone.
- WHAT I CONSIDER MY FIRST "LEGIT" REVIEW: I may have loved writing, but it definitely took me awhile to figure out how to do more than just re-tell what happened at a show. Mat Kearney at The Black Sheep still does a lot of that, but goes deeper into his story as an artists as well.
- FAVORITE "I SAW THEM BACK WHEN..." STORY: Seeing AWOLNATION play two sold out shows at The Summit Music Hall felt like a big deal back then, but what hadn't been totally realized yet was that their little opener, Imagine Dragons, would go on to become one of the biggest pop acts in the world over the next two years.
- FAVORITE CRAZY MOMENT AT A SHOW: I've seen Atlas Genius quite a few times at this point, but nothing will top their show at the Bluebird in 2013 because of the on-stage proposal I caught on camera.
- FAVORITE SHOW REVIEW: I've reviewed a lot of shows, but I always come back to this piece about Lorde at the 1stBank Center. I just love it, and really did love that show. Much yes.
- FAVORITE FEATURE: It's neat to see this band continuing to work their way into alternative relevance, but even as they grow, I don't think I'll ever write a better piece about Night Riots. This combined a show review, album review, and interview all in one.
- THAT TIME I GOT TO COVER MY FAVORITE BAND: Technically I've photographed or reviewed Jimmy Eat World four times now, but you know your life has come full-circle when you're able to review the show where your favorite band of all time plays your favorite album of all time front to back. It's even better when you're professional enough to eloquently fangirl through you're writing so you still seem legit.
- FAVORITE BAND TO SEE GROW: In 2013 an opening act asked me to come review them at the Bluebird, opening for some band I'd kind of heard of called Twenty One Pilots. That show was the start of it all. Since then, I've watched them grow into headlining Red Rocks three times, and become arguably the most popular band in the world in 2016. That show at the Bluebird is still my favorite. This review is about my second favorite show, their first performance at Red Rocks, and their first tour supporting the now Platinum-selling record Blurryface.
This weekend was a whole lot of the unnexpected mixed with a whole lot of fun. On Thursday Helen and I headed into the city for our last proper day exploring Sydney, and ventured through the most beautiful bookstore ever (Kinokuniya), and then wandered down to the Sydney Aquarium and spent the afternoon staring at sharks, Dugongs (a manatee type thing), and both Dory and Nemo fish in the same tank! It was super neat to see an aquarium that was built right into the natural habitat of the harbor.
Afterwards, Helen and I wandered through Koreatown, picked up some quick spring roll snacks, and got on a train to meet up with Reece out in a suburb called Penrith. We spent the night at his parents magical home in Korrajong, and hit the road bright and early for Brisbane. It’s about a 600mile trip up the Gold Coast to Brisbane from where we were staying, so why on earth would we waste a weekend doing this? Two things: RED PANDAS and The City Shakeup.
In the Northern Hemisphere, there aren’t many zoos that do any kind of “encounters” where you’re allowed to interact with the animals, but they are plentiful in the great "Land Down Under". A few of those encounters include the chance to meet the Red Panda, my absolute *favorite* animal in the world. The Australia Zoo was founded by Steve Irwin and is known for it’s “up close” animal interactions with a variety of critters. When I was doing research before the trip, the Australia Zoo was the only place to pop up that offered a Panda visit. It just so happens that my friends The City Shakeup - a wonderful band I got the chance to get to know during Warped Tour 2014 - are also from Brisbane, so this was a wonderful chance to see old friends, and make some new adorable ones as well.
The drive was full of torrential rain, and felt a bit like the world was working against us, but after a long and tenuous 12 hours, the rain cleared up and we arrived in Brisbane in time to meet up with Shakeup boys for a delicious dinner. The next morning we woke up at the crack of dawn and got on the road for one last 60minute drive out of town to the zoo.
We got to the zoo right at 8:05am, and it was quiet and empty for the most part. At 8:14am someone from the gift shop escorted us in to fill out paperwork, and I started finally realizing that this might actually happen. I’d been worried we’d be rained out, but the clouds had broken and the zoo hadn’t turned us away - it was time for destiny. Reece is also a Red Panda lover, so the excitement levels were through the roof! We boarded a little golf cart and were taken into the back alley of the zoo, and arrived at a little gate made of fake rock. The rain let up once again and they escorted us into the enclosure, gave us a towel to cover our legs to protect us from Panda paws, and waited anxiously as the keeper began to call for Psang the Panda.
After 20 minutes of anxiously watching his tail twitch from high above us in the tree, it became pretty clear that Red Pandas are my spirit animal in more ways then one: they are friendly, they love eating, but most of all, they are entirely lazy - so much so that Psang the Panda could not be bothered to leave his snuggly leaf nest to come down and meet us.
As much as I wanted to meet him, at the end of the day, Psang was still a wild animal, and he could not be controlled, so away we went without a so much as a Panda pat or nibble. I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, so it may be that Psang is not the panda i’m meant to meet, or better yet, maybe this just means that I’m meant to come back to Australia someday and meet another.
We left the zoo slightly disheartened, but had an amazing brunch at a Neverland-themed cafe which quickly changed the mood of the morning, and then hit the road for an outrageous dance-party all the way back to Sydney. Our last weekend in NSW may not have gone as expected, but it was still perfect in every way. Nothing beats a good road trip with good people, and good memories made.
Today we came back to Cronulla to spend one last day eating, relaxing, laughing and watching Disney movies with the amazing Ms. Kristen. Tomorrow morning (Monday) we leave Sydney and head to Melbourne for the second part of our journey, this time through Southern Australia via the Great Ocean Road. The trouble with making friends around the globe is how little time you get to spend with them. As excited as I am to continue exploring, it's honestly pretty heartbreaking to be leaving Sydney. I don't know the next time I'll see these amazing humans so I've tried to cherish as much of this time as I could. As they say, all good things must come to an end so that more good can come, but this has been to good to be true, and will definitely be hard to top.
Check out more photos from this part of the journey below:
It's Thursday the 4th of February and I'm on the train from Sydney to Penrith. In Australia.
I've dreamed of visiting Australia since middle school and have been planning this trip since last August, so this entire week has been spent pinching myself with each new experience - in awe and disbelief that this is actually happening. It's crazy to think that today marks the end of my first week on the continent - equal parts saddening as to how fast it's going, and exhilarating to realize how much I've done in such a short amount of time.
Since we touched down at Syndey Intl. Airport last Thursday, the excitement and adventure has been non-stop. I was swimming in the ocean within two hours of stepping off my plane, and my first morning I woke up in an apartment literally steps off Bondi Beach. The weekend was spent in the scenic Blue Mountains, and my week has been spent venturing through the various nooks and neighborhoods of Sydney.
I've seen more of this city in seven days than I thought I could see in two weeks, and have spent every minute surrounded by friendly faces both old and new. I've seen the most beautiful colored ocean water, explored national parks, taken rainwater showers, and drank on the steps of Sydney's Opera House. The city is vast but still feels small and comfortable - it's certainly not the intimidating metropolis I expected. The people are friendly and welcoming without question or reason. The views are scenic, the landscapes majestic, the food delicious, and the weather is summer at its finest.
The word "rejuvenation" feels pretty fitting right now. It's meant to describe a process of making something younger, fresher, and more "lively" - this trip certainly has been that. Learning to let go and be okay with not checking emails all day long, not dying for cell service or social media interaction, not worrying about anything other than myself in the moment has been hard. It's scary to let go, but man is it beautiful when you do. This freedom I feel to simply live in the moment is a freedom I've not felt in quite some time. It feels like learning to live again. I'm not just working, and not just "functioning in society", but actually living. I'm making time for genuine conversation, spending time reading and growing knowledge, I'm asking questions I might otherwise neglect, and taking time to be present in the moment instead of living through captured memories.
As if this journey needed any more connection to the "Everything In Transit" album, the only words to be rolling through my head all week long are the words to my favorite Jacks Mannequin song from that era, a simple chorus of the words "it's good to be alive".
Check out a few more of my favorite shots thus far below: