Thursday, June 23, 2011

Fitz and the Tantrums Review

This post originally appeared on Zoiks Online.

As lead singer Michael Fitzpatrick declared on Friday night at the Fillmore Auditorium in Detroit, Fitz and the Tantrums like to get down! This Los Angeles-based band brought an energy to the stage that few other groups are capable of, and by the end of their set, they had won over the entire audience.

Watching Fitz and the Tantrums is like viewing a funky symphony having a ball! The group, which is comprised of lead vocalists Fitz and Noelle Scaggs, drummer John Wicks, keyboardist Jeremy Ruzumna, saxophonist James King and bassist Joseph Karnes, have undeniable chemistry on stage, and their show is an interactive party where the crowd is encouraged to dance and sing along.

They opened their set with “Breakin’ the Chains of Love” and continued to wow the audience with other infectious songs like “Pickin’ Up the Pieces” and “Rich Girl.” Their cover of the Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of These)” was a huge crowd-pleaser. And they closed with their current single, “MoneyGrabber,” a funky tune that makes it impossible not to dance.

Fitz and Scaggs are both captivating performers, and they brought absolute electricity to the stage. Not to be outshone, the rest of the band kept the crowd excited, and King received enthusiastic applause for his solos. At one point during the show, Scaggs declared that she had broken her tambourine from playing it so hard. The broken tambourine seems a fitting metaphor for Fitz and the Tantrums’ live show: they play hard and perform their butts off!

For anyone looking for a fun, interactive concert that’s sure to leave you wanting more, I highly recommend seeing Fitz and the Tantrums. They’re embarking on an extensive summer tour, and their show is not to be missed!

Monday, June 20, 2011


On Thursday, I had a chance to see the New Kids on the Block again. I hadn't seen them since last year, and I was suffering from some serious withdrawals.

So, when I heard they were going on tour with Backstreet Boys, I knew I had to experience them once more.

This was pretty much my reaction all week leading up to the show:

I seriously could not contain myself!

Courtney, my BFF from the time I was eleven, joined me for the boy band madness. Of course, now that we're no longer eleven, we had to stock up on some adult beverages to enjoy in the venue parking lot (which we thoroughly did). At the liquor store, we surveyed patrons and employees about who their favorite New Kid is. In case anyone is interested in knowing, the check-out guy's was Jordan.

That's Courtney dancing to "Step by Step" in the parking lot before the show:

NKOTB fo' life!

See? Even fetuses love New Kids!

Danny Wood's motorcycle that he's raffling off for breast cancer research. If you'd like to purchase a ticket, you can do so here.

Our seats for the concert were pretty terrible, but I had ridiculous perma-grin throughout the entire show. The New Kids were great as usual (are they ever anything but?)! Unlike at previous shows, they mostly performed their older hits. And Donnie Wahlberg wore a "Fight the Power" t-shirt, which made me swoon. I was also really impressed by the Backstreet Boys. Wow, can those guys sing! They did a lot of slow songs and a cappella harmonies, and they sounded fantastic.

I left the venue feeling completely nostalgic and like I had taken up permanent residence on Cloud 9!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Oopsies and cop uniforms

It's summertime in Michigan, and that means one thing! Well, it means a lot of things (e.g. trips "up north," gardening and getting a tan, with a mixture of humidity and road construction thrown in there, too), but to me, it means doing extra work. A lot of films are now produced in Michigan, and they mostly shoot during the summer. After all, who wants to film when it's -9 degrees outside (especially if the film is set in Southern California)?

I've been an extra in two films this summer. The first was called "The Five-Year Engagement," and when I showed up on set, I knew nothing about it. I had no idea who was in it or what it was about; I just knew I had to dress like I was going to an upscale breakfast.

Apparently, I don't own anything that's upscale breakfast-appropriate as the wardrobe department immediately gave me one of their outfits to wear(which was a great, little blouse and a cute, grey pencil skirt). After I changed into said outfit, one of the women from the hair department asked me to come to the hair trailer with her.

I sat down in the first chair available, and immediately the guy (who was getting his hair done as well) next to me tapped my leg. I looked up. He smiled and said, "Hey, I'm Jason."

"I'm Kate. Nice to meet you," was my reply.

The following conversation then ensued:

Jason: Nice to meet you, too. So...who are you playing today?

Me: I play a person eating breakfast in a restaurant. The food better be good because I don't plan to do much acting.

Jason: (laughs) I hope it's good, too.

Me: So...who are you playing? Are you an extra as well?

Jason: (smirks) Um, no...

Me: Oh. Who do you play?

Hairstylist: Uh, he's one of the leads. And he also wrote the movie.

Me: Ah. So...are you from Michigan then, or LA?

Jason: LA.

Me: Do you like Michigan?

Jason: I dig Ann Arbor. It's very nice.

Some more small talk, and then he exists.

Only after I left the hair trailer and looked up the film on Internet Movie Database did I realize I was just speaking to Jason Segel (from "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" fame), who apparently is very famous. And here I was, thinking he was a fellow extra.

After I told the story to several friends, they took turns teasing me for being an idiot because (as one said) "he's totally famous! Everyone knows who he is."

Everyone, apparently, but Kate Brindle.

Last week, I got the chance to play a Customs Agent in "The Citizen." Nothing particularly comical happened on set, but I did get to wear this outfit:

I'm not going to lie, wearing a badge is kinda awesome. I'm just mad that I was not supplied with handcuffs or a gun. I can only hope that next time I'll be given a weapon.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Lobbying in Lansing

On Tuesday, I traveled to the capitol of Michigan (it's Lansing for all of you who didn't pay attention in fifth grade) to lobby for some animal protection bills. The Humane Society of the United States sponsors this annual event (Humane Lobby Day), and not only is it a good time to chat with legislators about animal issues, but it's also a nice opportunity to catch up with and meet fellow Michigan activists.

There's something about being in the capitol building that makes me excited. It's like I can feel change all around me. And I feel empowered and like I can make an impact when I'm surrounded by the folks who actually make the laws.

Plus, it's always great to be at an event that has bagels and Tofutti cream cheese for breakfast (not to mention vegan soy creamer for coffee).

We lobbied for Grant's Bills (SB 423 and SB 424), which is a package of two bills to end the use of gas chamber euthanasia by Michigan shelters and by Michigan Class B dealers, and Koda’s Bill, which would end pound seizure by Class B dealers in Michigan.

If you're unfamiliar with Class B dealers, I recommend watching Dealing Dogs or visiting this page for more information. What Class B dealers do to animals is particularly egregious and truly gruesome!

If you live in Michigan, and you'd like to monitor humane legislation, here are some helpful links:

The Michigan Legislature

The Michigan House of Representatives

The Michigan Senate

You can also get involved with HSUS Michigan on Facebook.

Monday, June 6, 2011

If you enjoy looking at pictures of furniture, this entry is for you!

Traveling around the country is great fun, but some of the places where I stay are a bit lackluster (read: have blood stains on the carpet, cigarette burns on the blankets and random stickiness on the telephone). But, during the first week of May, I stayed at some wonderful places! So this entry is devoted to them (especially because I want to celebrate while I can as I'm sure I'll be back at the Motel 6 soon).

For my gig in Portage, Indiana, I stayed at a lovely inn that was tucked away in the woods. The name of it escapes me right now, but my room had a little deck with this view:

After Indiana, I headed to Ely, Minnesota. I had never heard of Ely before, and when I looked at the Atlas and saw a microscopic dot that represented the town, I wasn't expecting anything particularly cool. Wow, was I ever wrong! Ely is absolutely beautiful. The entire town seems really rustic and artsy, and it's surrounded by lakes and forests.

In Ely, I stayed here:

I was the only guest in the entire house, so I had the place to myself.

My home for the evening was the Indigo room, which featured (yep, you guessed it) indigo decor.

In Rothschild, Wisconsin, the comedy club where I performed, the Koo Koo's Nest, is located inside of the hotel. And the hotel just happened to have fireplaces in all of the rooms, and a water park! Hell to the yeah. I didn't get any pictures of the water park (apparently, they're worried about creeps snapping shots of people in their bathing suits, and accordingly, cameras are banned), but I did take a few of my room and the lobby.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

My Big Fat Trip Out West

In April, I performed in Montana, Idaho, Oregon and Nevada for the first time. My friend, Steve Sabo, and I took my trusty Honda Civic all the way to the Pacific Coast to bring the haha to the masses (and by masses, I mean seventy-four people per show).

The drives were fairly brutal (being a Midwesterner, I forgot that even though states border each other, towns within them can still be at least ten hours away from each other), but the shows were a lot of fun, and I got the chance to see a lot of famous sites that were on my bucket list.

We started with a gig in Janesville, Wisconsin, and then we had a few days to make our way to Montana. So we decided to take our time and do some touristy things.

First up: the world's only corn palace. That's right - screw the Galápagos Islands or Egypt, my dream in life is to visit a building made entirely out of corn! Okay, so that's not actually true, but when Steve and I saw that the corn palace was on our way, we figured stopping there was a must.

Look at the excitement on his face!

A view from the inside:

Aw, Steve gave birth to a corn baby.

Of course, we couldn't help ourselves, and we insisted on making way too many corny puns during the entire time we were there (for example, apologizing to the tour guide for following her too closely and "stalking" her).

After leaving the corn palace (AKA the world's largest bird feeder), we headed to Wall Drug. For years, I had seen Wall Drug bumper stickers, and I had no idea what or where it was. Well, I soon found out.

It's definitely a cheesy tourist trap, but I was most impressed that they served veggie burgers and sold JASON personal care products (a great vegan brand). Not that many stores carry JASON, and I was lucky enough to score a bottle of body wash for $2.00.

Steve and I also scored rides on a variety of inanimate objects including a barrel and a jackalope (For the record, jackalopes are not real, despite several employees trying to convince me otherwise).

After Wall Drug, we headed to Mount Rushmore. It was so foggy on the day we went! When we first arrived in the park, we saw this:

I then stopped by the bathroom, and by the time I exited, this is what we saw:

Luckily, the weather cleared up again.

I'm not super keen on celebrating men who advocated for slave-ownership, but I will say that the craftsmanship of the site is quite incredible, and I definitely recommend stopping by if you're in South Dakota.

Our first gig after leaving the Midwest was in Lewiston, Idaho at the Red Lion Hotel. I didn't take any pictures from the show, but I did get some proof that I was actually in Idaho.

Oh, and I got this picture from a bathroom right near the state border. What a classy place! Welcome to Idaho!

After Lewiston, we performed in Butte, Montana at the Mine Shaft Lounge.

And then we made our way to Billings. I must say, Montana is quite beautiful, and the shows were a blast! At the Billings show, we ended up heading to the bar with the MC, Lukas Seely, and some other local comics and audience members.

They're into big beer in Montana, which makes it my favorite state of the trip!

After our shows in Lewiston, Butte and Billings, we had the weekend off, which we decided to spend in Missoula. I had heard great things about Missoula, and I was not disappointed. It reminded me a lot of Ann Arbor in that most of the people look like they're prepared to simultaneously research their dissertation and go on a five-mile kayak ride.

We walked around downtown a bit, and decided to eat at the Old Post, which was fantastic. I was very impressed by how vegan-friendly it was, and I had a yummy hummus wrap for dinner.

The following day, Steve and I actually went hiking. And it was his idea. Can you believe it?

A view from the hike.

You can definitely tell why Montana is known as 'Big Sky Country.'

Me on our hike.

During our hike, it quickly became apparent how out of shape we are. This became glaringly obvious when we were passed on the trail by a four-year-old wearing pajamas.

After spending the weekend in Montana, we headed to Portland, Oregon, where I went to the vegan strip mall (as soon as I exited the car, I swear I could hear angels singing) and the vegan strip club (yep, there is such a thing). If you haven't been, I recommend trying both. And if you can't make it to Portland, some of the stores, like Herbivore and Food Fight, have websites. It truly is like a little slice of paradise out there.

Our drive to the Oregon coast was absolutely beautiful! Plus, the vegan rice crispy treat I purchased at Food Fight and noshed on during the drive was most delicious!

Once we got to the coast, we performed at the Mill Casino. I was surprised as we did two shows on a Wednesday (which is quite rare), but both shows were fairly full, and the audience members were great laughers! Plus, the best part was, I got a $100 tip after the first show!

After Oregon, we piled back into the car and headed for our next gig (located at Winners Casino in Winnemucca, Nevada).

Unfortunately, Winners did not live up to its name as I didn't win a cent. But, the show was fun, and we got to meet audience members with t-shirts like this:

In case you're completely dense like I was, that's red neck, white trash, blue collar. It took me a minute to fully grasp his shirt, and during the show, I just kept asking him why he was wearing a t-shirt that said "neck trash."

The drive back to the good ol' Midwest was a long one indeed. We made a brief stop in Utah to watch the UFC fights (where, sadly, my favorite vegetarian fighter, Jake Shields, lost to Georges St-Pierre) and make fun of all the Affliction-clad dudes at the bar. Steve was a total trooper and drove the entire way home, which is not easy when you're going through terrain like this:

Once we made it back to Toledo (where Steve lives), my brakes were pretty much shot, so I had to get a $400.00 brake job. The good news is, it was originally going to be around $500.00, but I sweet talked my way into a deal.

I'm so glad I had the chance to go out west, but I definitely needed, like, fifty-three naps when I returned home.