Please Support Strength in NUMBERS!

I mentioned the project in my last post. The lack of Asian American representation in the media is alarming. Here to break down barriers and destroy stereotypes is Strength in NUMBERS.

Strength in NUMBERS is a grassroots Asian American music project featuring over 30 Asian American and Asian artists. I’ve backed $10 and tweeting daily to raise awareness for this project. If you love good music and/or minority representation activism there is something here for you. The project has reached $10,000 but it still needs about $14,000 to become real. There’s 5 days to go!

I’ve never been into the hip hop scene but I always support the underdogs. There is some great hidden talent in this album. Yesterday all $10 and up backers received a preview version of the album and I’ve can attest to the talent, musicianship, and message of this music. This isn’t fluff. There is depth and meaning, what music should be.

If you aren’t convinced, here is a free preview. My favorite tracks are #1, 18, and 19.

Now that this is off my chest I can finally get to that homework I’ve been putting off.

 

That’s Just The Way It Goes…

January 14th, 2013.

The day The Click Five announced that they were parting ways.

I can’t even explain in words how much this band means to me. When I first heard Just The Girl back in 2005, when I was just 12 years old, I had no idea how much I would love The Click Five and dedicate my time and ear to them. For almost 8 years, The Click Five has been my favorite band. These 8 years weren’t always an easy journey, for me and the The Click Five, and in a way I feel like I’ve grown up and out with them.

August 16th, 2005.

The quintet, originally composed of Eric Dill, Ben Romans, Ethan Mentzer, Joe Guese, and Joey Zehr released their first album Greetings From Imrie House August 16th, 2005. The date is important because it is also my sister’s birthday. I remember buying myself their CD as a birthday gift for myself when my birthday came around in September. I had just started middle school. I was addicted to listening to the CD. I listened to it everyday after school while I did my homework. Needless to say, I quickly memorized every lyric and even the tracklist so I automatically knew what songs came after which. I somehow found my way onto the Click Five message boards, affectionately called “The Boards.” I think this is when I was really converted into a fan. As people in fandoms generally are, I thirsted to learn every little bit of every member as I could. Their birthdays, favorite colors, nick names, hometowns. I religiously watched their tour diary videos over and over again. I desperately wanted to be able to witness one of their concerts in person but for the time being, I bonded with other Click Five fans from around the US and only managed to see The Click Five live through low quality phone video recordings.

They blew up. Just The Girl was a hit. Everyone knew the song. I was proud enough to state that they were my favorite band at the very mention of their name. They held a world tour. They traveled to Europe. They filmed a movie, Taking 5. They now had fans from around the world. Back at home, I was proud of their success and recognition. I had never met any of them and I couldn’t even say that I truly knew what their personalities were like. All I knew was that these guys had a talent for making music, and I connected with it and was invested.

Fans were eagerly anticipating a second record, hearing bits and pieces of new tracks at shows and through Youtube clips, but somewhere between 2006 and 2007 something un-Clicked. Eric was leaving the band. This came as a shock to many, and with Eric’s departure was also the departure of a good portion of the fanbase. He was the lead singer, after all. Most people recognize a band mainly by their lead. He wanted to pursue a solo career and I wished him luck, understanding that Eric and the rest of The Click Five had musical and career differences. What I realized then was that although I loved Eric’s voice, it was the intangible and indescribably distinct Click Five sound and songwriting that kept me coming. As long as Ben Romans and Ethan Mentzer kept writing the Click Five songs, I would keep loving them.

Along comes Kyle Patrick. Some fans resisted him, by I kept an open heart and open ears. Little did I know that this man would change my life. Four words: Band Behind The Band. A new marketing strategy to reignite the hype that had disappeared since their very successful first year and just videos full of hilarity and near insanity. Sometimes I think that they blew up too fast because by 2007, The Click Five was virtually unknown and it was a shame because that year an amazing record came out.

May 11, 2007.

This was my chance at last! I remember absolutely freaking out in my cousin’s basement when I found out that The Click Five was giving a free concert right in my hometown of Wilmington, Delaware. I had to go. Otherwise I would probably die. The Wilmington Flower Market show was my first concert ever. I was 14, about to finish up middle school and start a new chapter in my life as a high school student. It’s funny how so many events relating to The Click Five coincidentally related to important moments in my real life. This was Kyle’s first show as an official member of The Click Five and the first on their tour to promote their new album Modern Minds and Pastimes. I recall standing in line at the end of the show to get autographs and a picture when the girl infront of me asked her friend who the lead singer was. I promptly responded, “His name is Kyle.” I had been following the band’s journey with Kyle since the beginning and I was proud of it. Admittedly, I didn’t remember Kyle’s last name at the time. (P.S. Patrick is his stagename, understandably since his real last name is Dickherber.) I got a picture and autographs. I witnessed them performing live. I told Joey happy birthday (which was the day before), slightly disappointed in myself that I didn’t think to make him a birthday gift so I could be one of those fans that they’d remember. But my life was complete at the moment. This was a phrase I often caught myself saying after anything Click Five related.

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When their sophomore record came out I listened to it just as much as their first one. My cousins and I filmed a music video for Headlight Disco which, according to my brother got 17,000-something views on Youtube. When I think back to it, it’s kind of embarrassing, but at least I played director and editor so my actual person wasn’t in it haha!

Somehow during the 2007-2008 period, the band garnered a massive fanbase in Asia, which is/was their biggest market to today. It still confuses me to this day how it happened, but I commend them for it and I commend Asia for recognizing the raw talent that was resident in the band. Asia knows what’s up. The Click Five partnered with MTV Exit, a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing awareness to and stopping human trafficking, a problem that is prevalent all over the world, but especially big in Southeast Asia. The members put in a lot of commitment to the cause, giving benefit and awareness shows and personally visiting victim shelters in countries like Cambodia. This only gave me another reason to dedicate every fiber of my being into loving them as musicians and just beautiful people in general.

Throughout 2008 and 2009, The Click Five played smaller venues up and down the East Coast. After my first Click Five concert experience, I was desperate for another and I actually had many chances to see them as they played shows in Philadelphia pretty often, but they always happened on a weekday when I had school so I never had the chance. They were working on a new record. Again, fans were waiting for it and kept being teased by tour diaries and video snippets. But of course, there was another bump in the road.

They split ways with their label, which prevented them from creating the music they wanted to. That’s the thing I don’t like about mainstream music and record labels. They don’t let their artists do what they love. Although The Click Five was much more handicap financially without a label backing them, the music they wrote during that time was the best yet. I still think it’s funny how The Click Five’s journey as a band is opposite of how many bands reach fame. Instead of being discovered as an indie act that reaches mainstream popularity like, for example, Imagine Dragons or Fun, The Click Five went from a heavily manufactured experience to a band that had to self-finance their album and reinvented their sound to fit a much more mature audience.

Over the past 3 years, I think most fans were in the dark with what was happening. People were unsure of whether the band was still together and making music. Kyle was working on solo music and doing tiny solo shows. Singles were released but did not reach popularity outside of the current fanbase. There would be moments when you’d think that the band was about to make an epic comeback into the music scene and then your hopes would be let down. During that time I bought a vinyl with two of their new tracks I Quit! I Quit! I Quit! and Be In Love. Yeah, I don’t own a record player. At last released their third and now final album TCV in 2010, first to Asia, then worldwide later in 2011. It was by far their best work.

May 25th, 2011.

Philly, World Cafe Live, Downstairs. I was a Senior in high school and I was done with my finals. All I had to do was graduate. This was not a show I could miss. It had been 5 years since I had seen The Click Five live and with the especially bumpy musical journey these guys had, there was no way of knowing when I’d get the chance to see them again. I’m actually pretty fortunate in comparison to a lot of Click Five fans who don’t live so close to the Mid-Atlantic Region. It was one of the best nights of my life. Words cannot explain it. It’s just a feeling. Here’s a video.

And time goes on. These guys have had an influence on my life in more ways than one.

Kyle started his solo PledgeMusic project which I’ve posted about before. He’s getting so much positivity in Asia right now. I wish him the best and I hope he gets some more recognition here in the states. Oh and Kyle, if you read this, will you ever go back to your singer-songwriter style? I miss it. Kyle’s really good friends with Jesse Ruben and that’s how I was introduced to his music, and is now one of my favorite songwriters. Both Kyle and Jesse have both inspired me to be the best that I can be and chase my dreams. They are proof that hard work and dedication to a goal or cause will make a difference. One day, I hope to run the NY Marathon beside you guys.

Almost as religiously as I used to listen to GFIH I read the Mr. Kate blog. Kate Albrecht, entrepreneur, lifestyle blogger, and DIY-er extraordinaire is also Joey’s girlfriend and my ultimate role model. I don’t quite remember how exactly I found her blog or her connection to The Click Five, but she was also in Taking 5. She has also inspired me that success as a woman and crafter is possible and I hope to follow her footsteps one day. Joey, you’re an awesome person for supporting your leading lady in her dreams.

I have to mention that the reason why I read one of my now favorite books, 1984, was because it was the book that was chosen for the Click Five Board book club, run by Ben Romans himself. Ben Romans, thank you for introducing me to my now favorite genre of book. And Ben, you are an inspiration to a classically-trained musician and piano player that the music doesn’t stop there. I hope to develop my skills one day and be able to play pop music without it sounding awkward and maybe even write my own songs.

Ethan, you were my favorite member back in my teeny-bopper fangirl days. Thank you, for writing  Don’t Let Me Go. The song has touched countless people without even you intending it to do so. I entered the video contest for MTV Exit and did a lot better than I expected. That song and The Click Five’s involvement with MTV Exit made me more aware of the issue of human trafficking and has got me thinking into working in the non-profit industry after I graduate college. I want to be able to make a difference, no matter how small.

I feel like I have to write about everyone now. Joe, I never really knew much about you but your role in The Click Five was definitely important. You’ve always kept to yourself and never said much… anywhere but that’s just you, I guess. Oh, and it was your birthday recently, so happy birthday!

And finally, Eric. To be honest, I haven’t really followed your solo career but I’ll occasionally find myself listening to a few of your songs when I stumble upon them. Although you are not a part of The Click Five I love today, you were a part of The Click Five I loved in the past and it was the original five members that initially drew me into the band. I’m sad that I never saw a Click Five show with you as lead vocal but thanks for being a part of the journey and experience.

To my fellow Click Five fans, I know it’s sad and disappointing to hear that The Click Five was parting ways. When I read the Facebook message, I physically felt my heart beat quickening and body temperature warming in response. I couldn’t believe it. I had been recently binging on their old music and reliving some of the “good ole days.” I had seen some of the guys’ tweets and innocently thought, maybe they are together writing new music for a new record? I was excited for something new from them. And then this news came. But to be honest, in the back of my mind, I could see it happening. The road hasn’t always been smooth for them and they’ve been through a lot without achieving much in the more recent years. This was probably the best decision for them as individuals and I sincerely wish them the best of luck in the future. I’m glad that Ben, Kyle, Ethan, Joe, and Joey are still good friends and are leaving on good terms. The Click Five will forever occupy a special part in my heart and I will support them no matter what they choose to do. Life has it’s ups and downs but I guess that’s just the way it goes…

Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011)

Source: Google Images

Yesterday, I watched this amazing documentary and it left me deeply impressed and craving for some raw fish!

Jiro Dreams of Sushi is a documentary directed by David Gelb and is focused on the 85 year old, world renown sushi chef and restaurant owner Jiro Ono. It’s completely in Japanese with English subtitles.

To be honest, I wasn’t exactly sure what this movie was about. All I knew is that sushi is one of my favorite foods, I find Japanese culture very interesting, and that Tokyo, Japan is on my lists of places I need to visit at least once in my life.

I think I was expecting some sort of biographical pictorial, and in a way this documentary was a biography, but it was also so much more. Some parts of it focus on Jiro’s journey to what he has become, including aspects of his childhood and a heartwarming and cute scene of a reunion of him with his childhood friends. In today’s fast-paced and transient society, it’s hard to form bonds as strong as those between neighborhood friends of 80 years ago. I know even my grandparents make efforts to reconnect with their childhood friends but for me, I barely remember the names of my Kindergarten classmates.

Another focus was on Jiro’s two sons, the older one who is to inherit the restaurant and he younger one who has opened a lower-class mirror of his father’s restaurant. The interaction between the family members and the relationship between father and sons really says something about the family system and structure of Japanese society.

Lastly and what I was looking forward to the most in the documentary was the emphasis on the creation and artistry behind making and serving sushi. Jiro is definitely one of a kind in his skill, expertise, and dedication to the trade. It’s almost like a science to him, as he follows a strict routine to both his life and sushi making. He will not serve anything that does not satisfy his expectations and pays close attention to every detail of the process, even down to the size of the sushi piece in relation to the customer who is being served. His attention to detail was very inspiring!

The documentary’s highest point was its cinematography. Each image was breathtaking and mouthwatering. And I was a huge fan of its romantic/classical music  soundtrack. There’s not really any way to explain the images in words so here are a few moving gifs to help explain my point.

Source: Tumblr

Doesn’t it make you want to eat sushi? I need to get to Masamoto’s ASAP. Masamoto’s is my favorite sushi restaurant near my house. Never mind that, someone fly me to Japan!

Overall, this was an amazing documentary. I cannot say it enough. If you are at all interested in food or Japan, I really recommend it. And maybe if you’re looking for something inspiring to help you find your motivation to reach your goals, this will help too. And what’s even greater is that it’s available for Netflix subscribers. A free, great movie – a must watch!

I guess you could say it was pretty fun… hehe

Sorry, I just had to make that the title.

When it was announced that fun., the band behind hits We Are Young and Some Nights were coming to UD, I was determined to go. It’s not often that a famous and good musician venture to the forgotten state of Delaware. It will not go unsaid that I was not happy with the musical acts that held concerts at UD last year.

On the morning the tickets went on sale, a couple of friends and I woke up before the crack of dawn and found ourselves behind over 100 people already waiting in line for a chance to see the band play at our own convention center. I skipped a class for these tickets. I’d been in college for over a year and that was the first time I skipped a class. This was the real deal.

At last November 5th came! It only made it better that marching band rehearsal was cancelled so we had no worries about rushing around and getting from here to there. And sure, it was a little cold walking for 20 minutes to the venue but it was worth it.

One thing I love about going to concerts is that it forces you to listen to music without distractions. Sometimes it is only after seeing a band play a show that you can really get into their music. And sometimes it’s just the fact that those bands were meant to play live and not be listened to on a recording. Going to concerts is a great way to discover new music and bands.

The openers were Miniature Tigers and Walk The Moon. I thought I had never heard of either of these bands before seeing them, but I did hear good things about them from people whose music opinions I trust. But when Walk The Moon played Anna Sun I definitely recognized the song from hearing it before. I was really impressed by their presence. It was a little difficult to get the crowd going because most of them were just there to see fun. but they did an incredible job. I will definitely be giving these bands another listen.

The time in-between acts was a little lengthy and actually made each act , especially fun. seem too short. About an hour and a half after the first opener, fun. finally took stage. While I am not a huge fan, I am familiar with their music. It’s safe to say that I at least recognized every song that they played and knew at least the chorus.

So apparently, this was fun.’s first time in Delaware and the biggest show that they’ve played. I was surprised at the latter fact. I thought a band with such huge radio hits would have played bigger shows than a college in an unknown state. But we had that in common: that was the biggest concert I’d been to, too! It had all the works: laser lights, fog machine, and confetti. Every other concert that I’ve been to as been either at a bar/club setting or an outdoor setting.

So maybe this is something common for larger venues but I did not feel the same connection between artists and audience that I feel at smaller, intimate venues. There wasn’t a lot of conversation happening. It was just song after song after song and they stopped only once or twice to talk to the audience a bit and tell some stories. Maybe I’m used to the storytelling of The Click Five and Jesse Ruben but I wish there was a little more of that personal interaction happening with fun.

With that being said, their lack of conversation did not take away from their musical ability and performance. Nate Ruess has a stellar voice that did not fail that night. It’s not common today to see “musicians” being able to live up to recordings. Actually, I want to say that I enjoyed fun. much more live than whenever I listen to recordings. There’s just something extra about the sound quality. I love that fun. incorporates horn and string instruments in their music and I was surprised that their pianist Andrew Dost also plays the trumpet. Then again, we learned in one of the few conversations that Andrew wrote a musical in college, so maybe it wasn’t so surprising. After watching them play some of my favorite songs live (mainly The Gambler and All Alone) I really want to learn a few fun. covers on the piano.

My favorite part part of live concerts is when the crowd sings along. There is just something awe-inspiring about it. In this case, 1000s of people sang in unison during a few of their songs. There was a really amazing moment during We Are Young when half of the audience did the “na-nas” and the other half sang the “carry me home tonight” part. It was like a 5000-person choir.

The show ended after 2 hours of non-stop music. It was really sad to see a good portion of the audience leave before the encore performance. Really, have people never been to concerts before? I would be personally offended if I was the performer and noticed that a bunch of people left before the show officially ended.

All in all, this concert was an amazing experience. Concerts are definitely my entertainment medium of choice. If I could go to one every week I would! If only Kyle Patrick would come back from Asia and do some US East Coast shows…