that's showbiz

finding moments in the virtual insanity

When is the next time we’ll see a live performance? This is the question that I can’t get past. My favorite place in the world is either the Bud Light stage at Lollapalooza, or the Blue Note in Columbia, Missouri. I love getting lost in a sweaty crowd. I love the moment the lights dim and the band appears onstage after a dramatic intro.

I had tickets to see Big Wild at Red Rocks this August. It would have been my first Big Wild show and my first Red Rocks show.

I wasn’t surprised when I finally got the notification this week:

Moral of the story: It would have been my first Big Wild show and my first Red Rocks show…and it still might be. DARK!

In February I saw Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas and the Silversun Pickups in Denver in the same week. It was the best week of 2020 (not that there’s much to compete with so far) and the last time I saw a live show.

It didn’t hit me until recently that it could be a long time before I go to another performance. As an audience member I’m gutted. As a performer I can’t imagine how it must feel. “The show must go on” has been something you can always count on, no matter what. My computer background actually says “That’s Showbiz” to remind me that, hey, shit happens, but that’s showbiz.

Except in this case, it is not just showbiz and the show will not just go on. It’s bleak, man.

But I don’t write this newsletter to further depress you all. I’m writing it because I know the show does go on, at least in my living room. One bright spot in all of this has been the availability of performances via YouTube and live streams.

For instance, I was really missing Cirque du Soleil after my Vegas visit, and then the company started releasing shows to watch for free online. I was down about the fact that I still haven’t seen Griz, but his live streams have been pretty amusing, to say the least. I really miss baseball season, but I discovered ESPN 8 and watched a sign-spinning competition over the weekend, so all is not lost.

Below I’m sharing a roundup of my favorite live performances of all time that you can still watch for free online. If I can’t go to the circus, the circus will come to my living room. And that’s showbiz.

Some iconic live moments I can name off the top of my head that you can still watch online:

  • Wrecking Orchestra’s TRON dance. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

  • Beyoncé rising out of the stage at the Super Bowl halftime in 2013

  • Beyoncé doing anything

  • Twitch and Alex on So You Think You Can Dance (I have memorized this routine by heart)

  • Lady Gaga performing Paparazzi at the VMAs. The fake blood!

  • The Struts absolutely killing it at Lollapalooza, at 2 p.m. It was 2 p.m!! The opener slot! I was there and not ready for it. They just came out and SHREDDED. Please watch at least the first five minutes. I thought I was witnessing the return of Freddie Mercury.

    I mean, look at this guy:

    The Struts Announce Headlining North American Tour - Rolling Stone
  • Another favorite Lolla moment: Watching Muse perform in a torrential downpour before we all had to evacuate.

  • The Navarro College Cheer 2019 routine, obviously. And watch Cheer on Netflix BEFORE you watch this routine, if you haven’t already (what is taking you so long?). The routine spoils the finale if you haven’t seen it. What are you still doing here? Stop reading my newsletter and get on Netflix!

  • The Hamilton cast performing “The Room Where It Happens,” my favorite song in the musical.

  • The battle scene of Cirque du Soleil’s KA in Las Vegas (check it out at the 49:40 mark on their YouTube special). Important side note: This is the scene in which an acrobat fell to her death during a live performance. I recommend reading this Vanity Fair story to fully appreciate how difficult and dangerous this performance is, even though the artists make it look easy. The scene’s choreography has since been adjusted.

  • The Jabbawockeez performing Apologize. Classic Jabbawockeez from when they were first competing in America’s Best Dance Crew.

  • Britney Spears, VMAs, 2007. Right in the middle of the worst time of her life, she performed Gimme More and it became the most controversial performance of her career. Critics thought it ended her career. Obviously it didn’t. You have to love Britney (also, I hope she’s okay, considering she just burned down her gym).

  • Not a live moment, but an honorable mention: I still can’t get over the music video for Jamiroquai’s Virtual Insanity, even though it has been explained to me like ten times. I know on a logical level what the trick is but it just still does not compute. Also, we are all living in an actual virtual insanity right now so it felt wrong not to include Virtual Insanity in here.

On to the news part of the newsletter…

Highly Recommended Poetry

I had to share this brilliant poem composed of the first lines of emails.

Try Something You’re Bad At: Baking Edition

In this week’s Try Something You’re Bad At (a new section of the newsletter in which I try something I’m bad at), I will be discussing baking. Last week’s urban sketching experiment went surprisingly well so I’m giving it another go.

I’m clearly not original in trying to improve my baking skills right now, but originality is lame anyways.

Today I baked my first loaf of bread without using a bread machine, and I picked the easiest possible recipe, ladies and gentleman. I am not kidding. Here it is:

Beer Bread

  • 3 cups self-rising flour (or use regular flour plus baking powder and salt)

  • 1/4 cup sugar (or honey)

  • 1 can beer (I used Upslope but you can use whatever you have on hand)

  • 1/4 cup butter, melted

That is it. It’s probably the only recipe I’ll ever have memorized because it is FOUR INGREDIENTS.

Who need sourdough starter when you have beer? Pssssssh.

Anyways, beer bread is delicious and it will make you feel like a master baker even though you literally just combined the booze in your fridge with some flour. Cheers!

Aphorism of the week

I love aphorisms (the short, universal truths you see on bumper stickers) so I’m going to start sharing them here. I liked this one for our current chaos:

The things that go wrong often make the best memories.

Chris Quote of the Week

Like an aphorism, but from Chris.

Can’t win ‘em all.

Hop take: Craft beer pick of the week

Longs Lager by Shane Harris on Dribbble

Longs Lager, 14er Brewing

I finally have an update here! Last week I did an improvised bar crawl (wandered from brewery to brewery and ordered crowlers out of a window) and even though we couldn’t go inside the breweries, it felt glorious to be trying new beer and supporting the neighborhood. I tried 14er Brewing for the first time and loved the Longs Lager. I agree with the website’s description as “a crisp and light American Lager designed for crushing.” It was definitely crushed.

I’m tired of writing! The end.



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