5.16.2017

Review: Catfish & the Bottlemen Take the Rave

Catfish and the Bottlemen: A Review from The Rave

May 9th, 2017
Catfish & the Bottlemen @ The Rave
Milwaukee, WI

   Not to brag or anything, but I had the best seats in the house for the Catfish & the Bottlemen concert at The Rave last week in Milwaukee. I left the venue starry eyed; occasionally murmuring a "Wow". 
   While I'm a little biased, seeing as I'm a huge fan, it's safe to say that Catfish and the Bottlemen blew my mind. CATB creates this massive wave of sound that hits your ears in just the right spot.
   I purchased VIP Balcony seats (fitting because CATB's first album is The Balcony) and while there was considerable less energy above the stage, ultimately it was worth not being splashed with beer and sweat from strangers... plus, I had a front row view of the entire stage which is priceless. 8/10 would recommend to a friend
   The Worn Flints opened for Catfish. I hadn't done any research on The Worn Flints before the show so I wasn't sure what to expect. They remind me of Cage the Elephant a little bit. The lead singer had a ton of energy and strutted around the stage making silly faces at the crowd which, for the record, was a little bizarre.
   I was really digging the first two songs that The Worn Flints played but when they pulled out "Shoulda Known" it felt like a bar gig that went on for too long. I'll be honest, I really just wanted them to get off of the stage so the show could move forward. It was almost torturous. The saving grace was the light show, 12/12. I absolutely loved what they had going on during The Worn Flints. It was easy to take pictures of and it was very aesthetically pleasing whereas the CATB light show was just impossible to work with (photographer's nightmare).
   When The Worn Flints finally left the stage and the roadies started setting up for Catfish, I started getting really antsy. Larry (Lau, lead singer Van McCann's BFF & guitar tech) crossed the stage & I (along with some other die hard fans) screamed. It was so weird seeing all of the people featured on Benji's Snapchat stories or Bob's Instagram IRL setting up for the show. 
   Catfish kicked off their set with "Homesick", "Kathleen", and "Soundcheck". It was an energetic performance although Van seemed distracted or irritated at times, possibly due to the lack of hype up on the balcony. I'm sure that The Rave held a tame crowd compared to what the British arena rock band is used to. I'll admit, at times I didn't know the words to songs off of 'The Balcony' but I still had a fantastic time. There's just something abut seeing one of your favorite bands perform live... it's unreal. 
   Near the end of the set, the band left frontman Van McCann on stage for his solo song "Hourglass". The entire room burst into song it was a truly beautiful and memorable moment.
"7" by Catfish & The Bottlemen
May 9th, 2017
The Rave, Milwaukee, WI
   My favorite part of the show was watching the band members break their concentration to take a look into the crowd as a smile broke across their faces. These 4 extremely talented and dedicated young guys are living their dream, something they've worked for almost ten years on, and that alone makes me sooo overjoyed. 
   I would absolutely make the effort to go to another CATB concert. The show was high energy and very well executed. If there was a wrong note, I missed it. As I've said time and time again, Catfish and the Bottlemen don't disappoint. 

4.29.2017

An Opinion on American Culture

America the Beautiful

  American culture, for better or worse, is intense. As a country, Americans are progress driven and money hungry which isn't bad for America but it isn't healthy either. We Americans morphed the American Dream into this unrealistic expectation of everything in our lives running like a well oiled machine: picture perfect family, healthy body and mind, clean and well organized home, successful career, money, and a charismatic personality to match.


  We all have this image in our heads of how things are supposed to be. Hollywood has crafted this image through dynamic and memorable stories and characters but what we fail to remember about the characters we idolize and the stories we emulate is that there's always a fatal flaw or issue. There's no story without conflict, right? Gatsby couldn't move on/ bring back the past so he didn't grow as a character which led to his ultimate demise. Yet he is seen by many as the man who has it all: the house, the cars, the body, a successful career, and the personality. 
  I think we forget that real life flesh and blood humans have flaws too; whether it's flaws in society like racism and sexism or it's personality flaws like addiction, vanity, a lack of self confidence, or greed. And the worst part is, our flaws are often undefinable to us.


  It's crazy to think that while Americans have this unobtainable idea of what it means to be successful, other countries are fighting to get a stable government put in place. Americans suffer from a lot of first world problems. It could be the fact that the loaded taco burrito at Taco Bell is for a limited time only or maybe it's that not every public building has free wifi but in the grand scheme of things, Americans have such a high standard of living compared to the rest of the world that they really shouldn't complain. Most Americans have access to public education, clean water, and public transportation and as a civilization Americans have worked hard to make these things available for the people in their country. Huge corporations have made America what it is today and without that revenue we wouldn't be worried about getting our entirely frivolous unicorn frappuccinos. 
  Before I start an unwanted debate on capitalism, I'm going to state my point: the Americans behind huge companies are tenacious, thick skinned, hard working, and devoted. These traits seem to run in American's blood and as my own generation hits the work force, the older generation is starting to realize that things have changed. 


  The new generation no longer craves settling down and maintaining a house inside a white picket fence. No sir! My generation wants to change the world either with their voices or their technology. 
  I'll be the first to say that my generation is lazy. We haven't had to deal with the same trials as our parents or grandparents. We didn't have a Great Depression or World War II. My generation has had to face an unknown world: the internet and social media. We are the guinea pigs. My parents never experienced cyber bullying or online harassment. While these issues pale in comparison to World War II this comparison shows a shift in the human race. 
  Since World War II ended, America has been working to get ahead. While Germany and Poland tried to rebuild and figure out what their government was doing, America pushing forward. Fast forward to today and there's an awfully different set of expectations for young adults in America today. 

  America sprung ahead of pretty much every country in the world in terms of development. Because most Americans have their basic needs (food, shelter, rest) taken care of, they have had the chance to focus on education. Students today are expected to perform at a high level. They are bombarded with standardized tests that determine their fate. When your entire future relies on a test score you feel vulnerable. Is it healthy to put this much pressure on students?
  But that's the American Way. Push on until you die and you still won't have it all. 
****
All opinions are my own
I do not own any of the photos used

4.01.2017

Go Against The Grain

Go Against The Grain

Photo by Katherine Braun
March 2017

Treasure Hunts Suck

   Shopping is akin to going on a treasure hunt. You spend time searching high and low for something worth your hard earned money, for what? A small handful of pieces that were actually worth the time and effort? 
   Shoppers tend to stay within their comfort zone: trusted stores and brands. They find themselves coming back again and again, sometimes despite the outcome of their purchases.
Cheap material that's almost transparent? --I paid the price for it
Something breaks after a wear or two? --It must have been a fluke on my part.
Mystery hole? --It had to have been me
  As a consumer, I find myself making excuse after excuse for the company... and returning for more clothes on my next shopping spree. 

It Doesn't Have to be Like This. 

    My call to action for all consumers is this: If you aren't getting the quality that you expect, think about the stores and brands you are throwing money at. Rid yourself of the pack mentality that, "Everyone shops here so it must be the best.". Don't isolate your influence as a consumer to one or two 'trusted' stores. YOU ARE THE CONSUMER AND YOU HOLD THE POWER! Your money is a symbol of ideas, principals, products, service, and quality that you love and support. Think about that the next time you go shopping.  

Think About Where You Shop

Photo by Katherine Braun
March 2017
Flannel from Mills Fleet Farm

Where you would you buy a flannel? A beanie? 
   Most people that I know would say Forever 21 or another popular teeny bopper store like Maurice's or American Eagle (of which I am not familiar with). 
     Disclaimer: I'm a sucker for Forever 21. Their racks represent not only the grunge aesthetic but also the boho flower child, athleisure queen, and contemporary chic princesses of the world. Forever 21 feels fresh without trying too hard. 
  I've found many surprisingly nice quality dresses on their website that I would rank 12/10 would recommend to a friend. But their quality does not stretch across all of their products... you definitely get what you pay for. (Always buy the more expensive item if you're stuck between two similar pieces... you're paying for the materials). 
Photo by Katherine Braun
March 2017
Flannel and beanie from Mills Fleet Farm
BUT ENOUGH ABOUT FOREVER 21. 
After some research, I've found that flannels are best purchased at *drum roll* farmeresque store such as Theisans, Mills Fleet Farm, *insert name of your animal feed 'n renovation tools/hunting gear store here*. 
    Stores that sell farming supplies don't fool around when they sell clothes meant to perform. Overalls, flannels, beanies, jeans, boots... you name it, you'll find a product that looks just like your Ugg boots (Bearpaw for the win) or Forever 21 beanie but made of more durable materials. Plus, flannels are actually made of flannel (the fabric) at these stores! Who knew, right?
Photo by Katherine Braun
March 2017
Can you imagine the average shopper at one of these stores trying on a Forever 21 flannel? Uh-uh. That quality wouldn't fly. Fortunately for Forever 21, their consumer base ignores quality of products for street style cred (and I'm guilty as charged). 
    It feels like the best kept secret of the grunge fast fashion game. Why do we tend to stay away from these stores even if they have great quality pieces that we are looking for? 
The answer is aesthetic.
Photo by Katherine Braun
March 2017
    Farmeresque stores aren't trying to be the trendy-without-trying-too-hard older sister of Forever 21. They don't have large window displays with lacey bralettes and boyfriend jeans or tee shirts that say "Dope" or "Slay". These "animal feed 'n renovation tools/hunting gear" stores don't even have window displays because they aren't really marketed to women... but that doesn't mean you can't find really great pieces on their racks. These companies provide clothes you can live in, and I think that that's really important. 
    Fashion is plagued with fast fashion. Fast fashion stores are filled with cheaply made trendy pieces that don't always stand the test of time (although there are always exceptions). Remember the crosses and tribal print days of Forever 21? *cringes*
   Just like you, dear reader, I hate having to replace clothes that shrink, rip, go out of style, and don't live up to my expectations. Because of these issues that plague my wardrobe, I will be implementing some extra thought and common sense when trying to find specific pieces to add to my wardrobe. Who wants to buy cheap crap that doesn't last? Nobody. If you don't get the quality you expect, go somewhere else. 
Photo by Katherine Braun
March 2017

All opinions expressed on this blog are my own and do not reflect the companies mentioned.

2.28.2017

Back to Rock and Roll: Catfish and the Bottlemen Don't Disappoint

Left to right: Bob Hall (drums), Benji Blakeway (Bass),
Johnny "Bondy" Bond (Guitar), & Van McCann (Vocals & Guitar)

     Between writing articles and working, I've made time to check out the band that's been making waves in the US from across the pond---Catfish and the Bottlemen. Despite the quirky name, which sounds more like the name of a Weird Al cover band than an alt. rock group, these four dark haired Brits are some of the most ambitious musicians in the business... and it's not hard to see why. Catfish's blend of catchy power choruses, energetic rock beats, and well executed guitar solos proves their status as last year's recipients of the Brit Award for British Breakthrough Act.



     Take a listen at some of Catfish's biggest tracks on Spotify. "7" and "Kathleen" rank at the top while my current jam, "Twice", is at fourth with "Soundcheck" close behind (video above). 

     While most of their top hits are similar in style, CATB don't just stick to the basic alt/indie rock groove. Less celebrated tracks such as 'Tyrants' sounds more like First Impressions of Earth era The Strokes while "Heathrow" and "Oxygen" resemble The Kooks (at least, to me).
     Why should you be paying attention to Catfish? CATB is bringing good and simple rock music back to the music scene. What is 'good and simple rock'? Raw talent without all of the electronic bull shit backing up a track. With all respect to bands such as MGMT and even JC & the Voidz who use electronic instruments to create an almost unrepeatable performance on their tracks, there's something about hearing a song performed live and being blown away by how awesome it sounds. Every artist strives for the song's best version not to be the album recording. Being able to create an energy that blows people's minds is the ultimate achievement for a musician, and that's what CATB have done at every. single. show. 
Catfish and the Bottlemen
Benji Blakeway, Bob Hall, Van McCann & Johnny Bond
     Front man Van McCann never misses a chance to brag that CATB are flat out awesome live. In an interview with NME McCann said, "Live is our thing. I'm not saying other bands can touch us but that's our expertise. I think there are so many bands who are better than us at recording, writing songs, singing and playing guitars or whatever, but in terms of creating an atmosphere I think we're the best... No band will throw a rave like we can."



    Catfish & the Bottlemen will be releasing their third album... very soon. In an interview with NME, McCann said, "It's miles better than the last album. The band's 10 times better, the crew's 10 times better, we're all 10 times better looking. I wanted to make a life-affirming record for normal heads. People who get up and just want to have a good day." He continues, "I want to make you feel the way The Strokes did, but with the enormity of Oasis and the lyrics of The Streets." It's a tall order, but CATB haven't been known to disappoint.

Source:

1.26.2017

Dior Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2017 Stole My Heart


My Instagram feed has been exploding with insider shots of the most praised Haute Couture shows of Paris Fashion Week. Along with InStyle editor in chief Laura Brown and former Lucky magazine editor Eva Chen's daily fashion week shots, Christian Dior posted some precious backstage videos of the models preparing for the highly anticipated Haute Couture presentation. 

Dior provided a Zoltar fortune teller to get the models thinking astrologically and superstitiously. Superstition and astrology were two things that Christian Dior took seriously and it's evident in Maria Grazia Chiuri's designs that it's still a common theme at the fashion house today. 

The Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2017 show marked a new chapter in Dior's history books. It was the first Haute Couture show with Maria Grazia Chiuri as creative chief and I will be the first to say that the collection stole my heart. 

Dior's Bar Jacket silhouette makes an appearance with a modernized version of The New Look
Astrology vibes
The entire collection was very romantic; there was a strong stress on nature and all of the whimsy that comes along with it. Chiuri was heavily influenced by astrology and classic Dior silhouettes while designing her collection.



Powerful headdresses crowned models who resembled fairy queens as they made their way around the painstakingly decorated runway on the Musée Rodin grounds. 



The show began with masqueraded models dressed in all black ensembles with sharp yet careful tailored details. 



My favorite part of the entire show was the small stars placed around the model's eyes. It added a mysterious element to the fairy tale feeling of the show. 


Maria Grazia Chiuri made sure to have one design (yes! Only one design!) in Pantone's color of the year, greenery.
Cinderella's fairy godmother gets a makeover

It felt as though Maria Grazia Chiuri took a page from Karl Lagerfeld's last Haute Couture show. Many of the designs reminded me of his Haute Couture Fall 2016 collection. I have seen this whimsical fairy tale theme reprised multiple times for the past couple seasons, and it's starting to feel a little old. 
Dior Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2017
Valentino Spring 2016 Couture
Chiuri's last collection at Valentino was a tribute to the Elizabethan era. I'm finding similar gowns in her latest collection at Dior. Even the snake-like accents that added a touch of Medusa to the soft gowns in the Dior Couture collection where similar to hair pieces from Chiuri's final Valentino show. 

Christian Dior Spring 2017 Haute Couture
Valentino Spring 2016 Haute Couture
Although the Valentino and Dior shows had completely different ideas behind them, it's difficult to ignore the similarities in the designs, especially when the same designer designed them.  

As a die hard Dior enthusiast, I feel protective of my brand. I just hope Chiuri isn't recycling Valentino elements throughout her entire career. Valentino is not Dior. Dior is not Valentino. Yes, designers have different elements that they personally like to add to collections but when you're working under a name like Dior, you really should make sure to keep the two houses' designs separate from each other. Why present similar designs if the houses themselves are not similar? Just the names of the houses themselves represent entirely different histories. Dior is a French fashion house that changed women's fashion history after WWII by reintroducing luxurious, feminine designs to the market. Valentino is an Italian house famous for it's attention grabbing red gowns and for dressing Jackie Kennedy after JFK's assassination. 

12.31.2016

16 Things I've Learned in 2016 & A 2016 Round Up!

Photo courtesy of Katherine Braun
December 2016
      I know the general public's consensus is that 2016 was an awful year. We had a humiliating election in America and lost many talented artists both on the radio and the screen. I, on the other hand, had the craziest and most impressive year of my life. (Not to be a brag or anything) I've devised this lovely 2016 Round Up for the sole purpose of my audience, (you!), getting to know me a little better. Personal posts are a rare occurrence on Illusions of Elegance due to my unique blogging style (I prefer to talk about things that matter more to the entire world than things that just involve me). But, I'm always up for trying new things, and in the very least, it's beneficial for me to reflect on things that have happened in my life. 


Photo courtesy of Katherine Braun
December 2016

Photo courtesy of Katherine Braun
December 2016

16 Things I learned during 2016

1) Good taste in music attracts good people
2) You can do anything with the right connections
3) What's the worst that can happen? They remember you as that girl who had the guts to ______? Go for it. Your fear of looking stupid is wasting time
4) Having friends younger than you and older than you is priceless
5) Being licensed with a biweekly paycheck is the greatest thing in the entire world for a teenager
6) It doesn't hurt to stand out. 
7) Taking a chance on a show on Netflix can change how you see the world (aka television can be just as powerful as your favorite song)
8) Some people don't want to take a chance on the unique and choose the ordinary. They are losing the opportunity of a splendid adventure. 
9) You need to stop making excuses for why you aren't getting what you want, and go get it
10) Quality attracts quality and hard work pays off tenfold
11) Even God doesn't expect you to be perfect, stop beating yourself up
12) You don't need to please everyone, some people will just never understand. 
13) Getting a good night's sleep is more valuable than staying up late studying. Take care of yourself.
14) Never be ashamed of your ambition
15) You cannot feel bad about doing what's best for you. 
16) People will underestimate you. Let them. Because when you show them how accomplished you actually are, they'll be blown away (and feel like an ass). 

2016 Roundup - Individual Events With an Impact

3 Jobs - 1 Year           

     I'm a self proclaimed workaholic and a huge enthusiast for every job that I have. I think 50% of the photos I take are when I'm at work. Last January I was hired at my local bridal boutique. I am in love with my job and I talk about it constantly. 
    This September I was offered an internship at a local newspaper. I took it and started my repertoire of printed articles. It's tough to pick out topics from the daily grind, but I've had the opportunity to cover some really meaningful topics in my community. 
    A few weeks before Christmas, I was contacted by another local publication and offered a position. I'm really excited to be jumping on board there... it's an online platform which I'm obviously really comfortable with. 
     I also started up the journalism club at my high school and have successfully launched (with the help of many people) an online school newspaper. We are looking at expanding to a print version in 2017. I'm so happy that this brain child became a reality in such a short period of time. 
* names of publications aren't mentioned to protect my privacy, I mean, this IS the internet and I understand that anyone can read this. I just don't really want to be cyber stalked at this time, I hope that's understandable.

Loss of a Dearly Beloved Friend

     On January 27th, 2016 I had to say goodbye to the other half of my longest friendship and the boy I've loved the longest and arguably the most in my life: my cat, Big. He got sick for the first time in his life and it progressed quickly, leaving him too weak to eat or drink. My mom would put an IV with a bag of fluids in him just so he didn't dehydrate. He was in my life since I was in kindergarten, so obviously I felt a hole in my life early into the year. The day we put him down was the day I was hired at the bridal boutique. Funny how when one thing ends, another thing begins...

12.16.2016

It's Not Easy Being Green: Pantone Names 'Greenery' Color of 2017


Pantone recently named "Greenery" the color of 2017. If you aren't familiar with the hype surrounding Pantone's Color of the Year, I've got you covered.
   
     Pantone, a house hold name for interior designers, is a company that, in the simplest of terms, creates colors. Pantone is most famous for their Pantone Color Matching System. The Pantone Color Matching System provides an array of colors for designers that stays the same through the planning process until the final product. Usually views of the true shade of a color can be skewed by the lighting it's being viewed in or a number of other factors. Pantone does a great job making sure that every time you see a color it's really that color. Confused yet? Me too. The color matching system also provides a systematic way of naming hues of different colors, including fluorescent colors and metallics, for easier reference. Some countries even use Pantone to refer to the exact color on their flags! 
Atelier Versace uses the colors of 2016
to create a showstopping couture
number
   Pantone's first color of the year was Cerulean in the year 2000. The color of the year is chosen by a group of color specialists from around the world. They get together for a top secret meeting to choose the best candidate for the color of the year. The color that the specialists choose goes on affect fashion and interior design for the rest of the year! 2016 was the first year to have two colors of the year. Those history making super stars are serenity and rose quartz. The calming duo makes for a surprising and very stylish color combination. Personally, serenity and rose quartz is one of my absolute favorite color combinations... I'm not getting over it any time soon although Pantone has already moved on.
The Color of the Year
for 2017: Greenery
  This week Greenery was announced as Pantone's Color of the Year 2016. It's just a matter of time until the Sephora x Pantone palettes hit the shelves... Initially I was appalled at Pantone's choice. Green? We had a green less than five years ago! But the key to really getting a feel for the color is understanding why it was chosen out of literally every color in the world. 
      So what is Greenery? Why is it worthy of being named the color of 2017? Greenery is a shade of yellow green that easily transitions from a statement color to a neutral. Pantone has included a guide to pairing colors with Greenery on their website. On Pantone's Greenery feature page, Pantone says, "Illustrative of flourishing foliage and the lushness of the great outdoors, the fortifying attributes of Greenery signals consumers to take a deep breath, oxygenate and reinvigorate... A life-affirming shade, Greenery is also emblematic of the pursuit of personal passions and vitality."
     Although the saying goes 'It's not easy being green', Pantone just made things a little easier for us all.