Post-Lolla Playlist

Lollapalooza is my favorite weekend of the year. It’s like my birthday, spring break and Christmas all rolled into one. It’s the place I get to see all of my favorite (and next favorite) bands all at once, and for someone who loves alternative music as much as I do, this is heaven on earth.

For the past 3 years now, I’ve somehow managed to make it to Lolla, even when my summers are unpredictable and I have no idea where I’m going to be. This year, I didn’t even buy tickets until the week of (and on Thursday, I bought a Thursday pass the day of for $30), and got to go on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. It’s 100% worth it to me. I strategize my entire schedule around which bands are playing at what times, and this often causes dilemmas (Arcade Fire vs. Justice), but if you do it right, you can see a solid 6 or 7 shows in one day. Now multiply that by 4….I’ll let you do the math, since I can’t do math.

And now it’s Monday, which means no more Lolla-land and back to reality. But that doesn’t mean the Lolla fun has to stop at work. Every year, I create a Post-Lolla Playlist compiling the best songs from the bands I saw, so I can re-live the memories of Cage the Elephant crowdsurfing from my desk at work.

In order of appearance as I saw them at Lollapalooza:

Day 1 (Thursday)

I hadn’t planned on Thursday since I knew I had to work, and it wasn’t worth going at 5 for a pass at full value. BUT my coworker wasn’t able to sell her pass, and I took it off her hands for $30. Super worth it. I sprinted from work to my apartment, underwent a transformation, and then showed up in time to see Cage the Elephant start their set.

Cage the Elephant, “Cold Cold Cold”

Cage the Elephant was incredible. They gave an energetic performance (which is crucial for an outdoor festival like Lolla), with the frontman running back and forth and even jumping into the crowd. I think they might’ve dropped him. Oh, well. This song was my favorite of the night.

Spoon, “Do I Have To Talk You Into It?”

I was literally walking by the stage without any clue that Spoon was performing on it, but I heard them playing this song and was like, wow, who is this? They sound awesome. Turns out it was Spoon, and while I’m obviously not a knowledgeable fan, I still really enjoyed their show.

Muse, “Dig Down”

GOD I LOVE MUSE. They were actually my first concert ever my sophomore year of high school, and even though I stopped listening to them as they came out with their newer albums, I was impressed with this new single that they opened with at Lolla. We watched them in the pouring rain, and they killed it for a few songs before the thunderstorm finally came and we had to evacuate the festival. I was beyond bummed, but grateful I got to see them perform at least a little bit.

Day 2 (Saturday…skipped Friday due to work)

Was super salty that I had to miss the Killers on Friday, but Saturday made up for it.

The Shelters, “Gold”

Possibly my favorite song of the weekend. The Shelters were a 12:45 p.m. show, a slot usually for smaller-up-and-coming acts, and I am always blown away every year by at least one band that I hadn’t heard of before. They had three guitarists and performed with the energy that I sometimes only see in those smaller bands.

Alvvays, “Archie, Marry Me”

Not my favorite, I’ll be honest, but my friend was a fan and no one else in the group had a preference on any of the shows playing at that time, so we went over to Alvvays. They were chill, and I liked their sound, but the vibe was probably too chill for me. I tend to like the head-bangers at festivals, but that’s just me.

Colony House, “You & I”

We got to the front row for this one, since they were playing at a puny stage. They were great. “You & I” is probably my favorite new song from the weekend. It’s just so swingy and beachy and dance-y. They also were one of those bands that sound the same live as they do in-studio. Normally I have a slight distaste for bands that sound too mainstream alternative, but Colony House was pretty decent.

Alison Wonderland, “I Want U”

That said, I was tired of the swingy, beachy alternative bands at this point, so we took a break and stopped by Perry’s (the notorious EDM stage frequented by the high school crowd). Unfortunately I could not tell you what exactly we were listening to. I can tell you that I’m pretty sure this song was something I heard. I think. I was kind of distracted by the flames shooting out of the stage.

The Head and the Heart, “Library Magic”

In the middle of the show, I turned to the group and was like, “I like these guys.” Which was surprising, because this isn’t a band I listen to. I’m just not a folk fan. But I was impressed by the artistry of each band member, since they played actual instruments like the piano and the violin. I guess it’s hard to follow Alison Wonderland with a violin, but they made it work, and I had an awesome time. We also made it onto the jumbotron.

Chance the Rapper, “Chain Smoker”

Ah, Chance. I saw him 5 years ago, when he performed at my college (I saw him for free, since I worked on the concert committee) on his Acid Rap tour. Then he blew up overnight, and I was seeing him performing on SNL. WTF. Seeing him in Chicago was a surreal experience, since Chicago is his hometown and the crowd was absolutely packed.  I chose “Chain Smoker” for this list because I got to see Chance perform it twice– first early in his career at an auditorium on a college campus, and then at the pinnacle of his career, with a field filled with passionate fans.

I have honestly never felt such unity in a crowd. Chance should probably start his own church. We all were just happy and having fun listening to great music. And that’s all you can ask for in a music festival.

Day 3 (Sunday)

I was exhausted at this point, but ready for one last round. I was most excited for this day of the three– if I hadn’t found passes for cheap, I would’ve splurged on just Sunday. The main dilemma of the day, of course, was Arcade Fire vs. Justice, since both played at the same time. Read on to find out what we chose…

Car Seat Headrest

Whoops, we missed that one…

Milky Chance

Missed it.

The Shins, “Australia”

The Shins were alright. They made me happy. They were fun. I think I spent the show mostly dancing around and getting excited for Justice (or Arcade Fire?).

Grouplove, “Sabotage”

Grouplove was our most anticipated act of the day, and thankfully we made it to this one, because they did not disappoint. While I love their classics like “Colours” and “Tongue Tied,” what really won me over was their cover of The Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage.” I am a sucker for covers.

Justice, “Pleasure”

Justice was FIRE. I can’t even pick just one song because they blended everything so seamlessly and beautifully that it was like hearing everything for the first time. Which is hard for an electronic artist to do, since the songs are all produced electronically and basically sound the same live or not.

Arcade Fire, “Wake Up”

Surprise! We saw both Arcade Fire and Justice, since we couldn’t bring ourselves to choose. We tore ourselves away from Justice when Arcade Fire had 20 minutes left in their set, and made it back to see plenty of Arcade do their thing. Wake Up isn’t normally my favorite Arcade Fire song, but this was just absolutely perfect for a Lolla setting. The crowd went nuts. And it was such a bonus that we made it there after Justice.

 

A Dollop a day keeps the doctor away

A coffee a day keeps the doctor away…I mean, not really, but I like to let myself think that. Even after getting quite the caff boost yesterday at Goddess and the Baker, I was ready to try another dose of cold brew today.

Dollop Coffee is another coffee business that’s well known in the Chicago area. Since I only have two more weeks left living in Chicago, I’ve made it my mission to hit every Chicago coffee establishment there is in the general vicinity. Which means no Starbucks or Dunkin’ for the time being. That can wait until I’m back in Columbia, Missouri, where the coffee options are admittedly more limited.

But that will be a problem for Future Caffeinated Californian. Today I’m in Chicago, and today I get to go to Dollop!


Dollop has several locations in the Chicago area, but I went to the one in the Loop near my apartment. I was feeling a lazy Sunday coming on and knew I had to get coffee and get it fast.

I loved that the place was designed for busy commuters. There was an Express menu and separate window, and this pick-up station to skip the line (something that I don’t see often at indie coffee places). Today being Sunday, it wasn’t crowded, but I have a feeling I’d get the same quick service any day.

I didn’t stick around, since it’s my roommate’s last day in Chicago (wah) but the place had free wifi and lots of space for hanging out. I grabbed a cold brew to go and came back to my apartment to pair the bitter taste with Honey Nut Cheerios.

I’m a slight sugar addict in addition to the caffeine.

The cold brew was good, on par with any good coffee place. It was nice and strong, brewed from Metropolis beans.

Cold brew with a view!

I am going to miss this apartment.

Sorry for the short but sweet post– girl’s gotta run! Leave a comment if you’ve got any suggestions for my next coffee visit. Don’t forget, I plan to hit every possible place selling coffee for my last two weeks in Chicago.

Enjoy the rest of this lovely weekend, and stay caffeinated (hydrated, I think, is the correct word here, but caffeinated is so much more fun).

XO,

CC

Goddess and the Baker: A bolt from the blue

What to do on a Saturday when you have to be productive? Go to a fancy coffee shop and pretend you’re being productive. Honestly, good coffee makes me feel like slightly less bummed to be working on a weekend (it makes me feel slightly less bummed to be working on a weekday too, but whatever).

Living in the Loop in downtown Chicago this summer has been a blessing and a curse. A blessing, because I’m right smack in the middle of amazing bars and restaurants. A curse, because I’m right smack in the middle of amazing bars and restaurants without the budget to go to said bars and restaurants. I make it work, though, and a really damn good coffee is one way to get the experience.

The Goddess and the Baker had been on my to-do list for a while. I’d been eyeing it every day on my commute to and from work, and I decided today was the day to see what the hype was all about.

It’s actually a recent spinoff from the Goddess and the Grocer, a famous cafe in the Chicago area. The founder, Debra, creates incredibly cool menus, and she even caters backstage for big music names (Fleetwood Mac, Aerosmith, and Jay-Z are among her clientele). If it’s good enough for Jay-Z, it’s good enough for me.

For starters, inside it has this gorgeously Snapchattable neon sign that gives the ultimate pro tip:

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People were actually walking in, Snapchatting the sign, then walking out without even bothering to get a coffee. I mean, lame. At least listen to the sign and caffeinate while you’re there.

When I first walked in, I was surprised at how huge the menu actually was. The name “Goddess and the Baker” should’ve been a hint, but still– they do not joke around with the baked goods. Their case features macarons, rainbow cake, salted caramel tarts, and plenty of other things that I did not know existed. I felt very inexperienced in this area, and moved on from the bakery case to the coffee.

Beyond the bakery, they have a coffee menu with a range of Goddess specialties, including both hot and iced coffee. Given my weakness for iced coffee, I had to try their cold brew on Nitro tap– the Goddess Sweet Cream Cold Brew, which is nothing like the sweet cream cold brew at Starbucks (sorry Starbucks).

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They call it “shockingly good coffee” for a reason. It was like literally getting zapped. I almost want to come back at 6 a.m. on a weekday just to get zapped in the morning so I can zoom into work at 8 and have everything already done.

Plus the atmosphere is clearly better than a cube:

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Not a bad way to spend a Saturday, even while working. I might’ve even enjoyed myself. And that’s what good coffee is all about.

XO,

CC

Beer & Takeout Pairings

After a less-than-great morning, I decided to do something out of character and spend an entire day in bed watching Netflix.

I realize this is completely normal behavior for half the human race, but for me it usually makes me anxious and feels like I’ve lost a whole day. Nevertheless, when I decide to do something, I don’t do it halfway. Seven hours went to the entire first season of GLOW, which turned out to be fabulous (I’m into the 80’s), and another four went to re-watching the best episodes of Mad Men.

After a day of bingeing on both TV and takeout, I realized the day wasn’t completely lost– I’ve discovered a special talent for selecting takeout and beer that go well with each other and with unhealthy doses of television.

Panda Express + Sapporo

At first I wrote Budweiser, but that just seemed un-American considering it’s paired with Chinese takeout. Sapporo is the Japanese Budweiser anyways. Seems as close as I can get.

Pizza + Fat Tire

Disclaimer: Of all the suggested beer/takeout pairings, this is the only one that has made me eventually puke. I’m sure the pizza played a larger role than the Fat Tire. In any case, proceed with caution.

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Chipotle + Corona

You can at least try to feel like you’re eating Mexican food if you drink a Mexican beer with it. Bonus: Chipotle sells beer now.

Taco Bell + Modelo

Continuing on the theme of pairing Mexican(ish) takeout with Mexican beers, Corona is an excellent complement to your Chalupa. Truly fine dining here. I sincerely congratulate you if you’re actually eating Taco Bell with Corona.

Jimmy Johns + Natty Light

I can only assume that you’re eating Jimmy Johns because it’s 2 a.m., in which case you’re likely drinking the can of Natty Light you found in your purse.

Portillo’s + 312

Because pairing a Chicago hot dog with a Chicago beer is the only real option here.

Panera + Bud Light

If you’re going to attempt to eat healthy, you might as well do the same with your beer.

In-N-Out + Stone IPA

As a former southern Californian, I have it on good authority that In-N-Out goes well with any beer out there. However, if I must choose, it would have to be Stone, since a West Coast burger deserves a West Coast beer.

McDonald’s + Budweiser

Ah, there we go: the ultimate American meal.

If you need more wisdom on having a drink with your food, this article offers plenty of valuable insight.

In the meantime, stay tuned for my next post on beer and donut pairings!

XO,

CC

Ballin’ on a budget: 10 actual fun things to do under $10

Part of working as an intern or entry-level employee is the less-than-ideal pay. We’ll all got to start somewhere, and most of us start on a limited budget. This is even trickier when you’re a 22-year-old surrounded by people with limitless energy and seemingly limitless bank accounts. It’s hard to be budget-conscious when everyone else wants drinks after work every day, dinners out every night, and plenty of shopping trips and coffee runs in between.

This summer, I’ve felt especially strapped for cash, as I complete an internship while living in downtown Chicago. As anyone will tell you, cities are expensive, and going out in Chicago for just one meal can mean $20-30 gone. 


The city is pretty but not cheap.

So my friends and I started getting creative with our weekend activities. Here’s 10:

1. Rent bikes


Chicago has an amazing bike rental system called Divvy bikes, and I know other cities have similar systems. Basically you pay ten bucks for a code, which you use to unlock a bike from any Divvy bike rack (there are Divvy racks everywhere). The code is good for 24 hours, which means you can bike around as much as you want- as long as you don’t have one bike out for more than 30 minutes at a time. If you’re active and you want to see your city in new ways, this one’s for you.

2. Visit Chinatown or Little Italy


On the other hand, if you mainly want cheap food and fun gift shops, Chinatown is for you. Little Italy is another great spot for great food amd a mini cultural adventure. The last time I went to Chinatown, I pigged out on dim sum, duck, and Chinese donuts. 

Caffeinated tip: Be sure to grab a cup of bubble tea while you’re there. It’s not coffee, but it’s the most fun you’ll ever have drinking tea.

3. Have a pizza picnic.


No matter where you go, you can always bring pizza with you. Order a box of ‘za, find a park/beach around you, and have a lovely date night outside with the love of your life: deep-dish sausage and pepperoni.

4. Ice cream in a new neighborhood 


Literally get on a train and go somewhere you haven’t been yet (I chose Wicker Park in Chicago), then make it your mission to locate THE best ice cream place (I chose Jeni’s). Alternative: The best taco place. Equally acceptable and potentially dangerous if they offer tequila shots.

5. Cheap (or free!) outdoor concert


Another benefit to cities: Concerts. I’m not talking music festivals, I’m talking those outdoor shindigs with families and lawn chairs. They’re actually fun. Bring beer and blankets, and you’ve got yourself a pretty decent happy hour.

I’ve seen Weezer and Passion Pit both for $20, and plenty of other shows for absolutely zilch. Check your fairgrounds and sports arenas– one time I stumbled on the Grateful Dead playing at Wrigley field.

6. Take a day trip to a brewery and take advantage of the free tour.

The MillerCoors tour in Milwaukee? Free. The three beers I got at the end? Priceless.

Even if you don’t drink beer, brewery tours are fun and you feel like you’ve learned something without being in a museum. The beer does not hurt either, though…

7. Shop the sale section of Forever 21.


Truly takes you forever. But it’s worth it when you find a killer romper for $2.99. And you’ve gotten the experience of a shopping trip without actually spending a fortune on two tops.

Alternatively, visit Goodwill or another thrift shop. There’s good stuff there for the taking if you’re willing to put in the time and effort. 

8. Go to a museum on a free day (or show a student ID if you can)


Most museums offer free days for residents and student discounts (even the Louvre). Check their websites and call around, then mark the calendar!
9. Rally the troops for bar trivia night.


Usually free, with great food and drink specials. If your friends are cool enough to not worry about looking cool, you’ll have a blast inventing an absurd team name and arguing over the answers to obscure 80’s song titles.

10. Stay in and have a Harry Potter marathon.
Arguably the best option of the ten. 

Im the end, even though they’re expensive, cities make up for it with all the free events and locations. You just have to know where to look!

XO,

CC

Stan’s Donuts: Go for the donuts, stay for the booths

It was a beautiful 77 degrees out in Chicago today, making it super worth the walk to try the famed Stan’s Donuts.

And it was, as predicted, super worth it.

Stan’s Donuts started in California, and it’s now a Chicago staple. I’m a sucker for sprinkles, but Stan’s has a ton of different flavors, from Coconut Cake to Lemon Pistachio.

Of course, I couldn’t just get a donut. I am Caffeinated Californian, after all.

With some incredibly muddy Converse.

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But the best part of Stan’s? Not the donuts, or even the coffee.

The BOOTHS.

The outside is pretty cool, too.

But I just wanted to stay in my booth forever.

I may be loyal to Dunkin’s 99 cent coffees after 2 p.m., but I won’t be in Chicago forever, and I need to get all the Stan’s I can. If you’re lucky enough to be in the Chicago area, you won’t want to miss it– if not for the donuts, or even the coffee, go for the booths.

You just might never want to leave.

XO,

A

Pickwick Coffee: A sign from above

I was on my way to work one rainy morning, when I walked past an alley and a floating apparition appeared before my eyes: A giant neon sign that said COFFEE.


This sign, to be exact.

I thought I was imagining it. I thought I was that sleep deprived. But when you see a sign from above, and it’s literally a neon sign above you telling you to get coffee, you don’t question it.

So I Googled it later that day and saw that it was, in fact, real, and it was a fabulous hole in the wall coffee shop hidden in an alley (well, not so hidden, given the neon sign). Yet no one I knew had heard of it. 

I had to go again and get a coffee for myself to really know it was real.

So I went with my roommates after church, and there it was:


I was not making it up! My roommates realized my sanity!

I got a cold brew, black, and it was delicious. My roommates got lattes with classic latte art.


Well, if you call an eerie resemblance to the Build-A-Bear logo classic. 

In any case, it was every bit as magical as it was when it first appeared to me in my vision, and I know I’ll be making it a stop on my commute more often. 


Well, except for this week, because this week is MY BIRTHDAY and I will absolutely be claiming my free birthday lattes from both Starbucks and Dunkin’. I have no loyalty, especially when it comes to receiving birthday presents. 

‘Til next cold brew,

A