welcome to the jungle, are you gonna dance with me?

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Dress: Forever 21 (old), Vegan Leather Fringe Jacket: BLANKNYC (similar)

You guys, Coachella Weekend 1 has kicked off which means it’s officially the start of festival season!!!! If you’ve been following my blog for a while now, you may have noticed that I love bohemian fashion, and I’m obviously a huge music lover as well, so festival season is literally my favourite time of the year! I love going to concerts year round too, but there’s just something about the laid-back vibe of festivals that you just can’t really compare to. Nothing beats dancing under the sun till dusk with your best friends, day drinking, and just hanging out listening to music that you love for a couple of days.

To celebrate the start of festival season, I thought that I would put together an outfit that I would wear to one. Keep in mind that it’s still pretty cold here in Toronto when I took these pictures, so this outfit may not be the most appropriate if you’re heading out to the desert for Coachella during the day. I would say that this outfit would best be suited for a festival like Glastonbury (just swap out the shoes for rainboots), or perhaps during nighttime at Coachella (since I’ve heard the desert does get chilly at night). Since it’s still early in the season and I love festival fashion so much, stay tuned because I will definitely have another festival outfits blog post up in the coming months.

When it comes to dressing for a music festival, the most important thing is to dress comfortably! While you’re walking around the festival grounds all day and dancing to the music, the pain of blisters forming on your feet or feeling conscious in a too-short outfit should be the last thing on your mind. For me, a flowy dress is always a great option for a festival because it’s literally the most easy and comfortable thing to wear. Short dresses are cute, but I especially love midi dresses because you don’t have to worry about the skirt blowing up and you can also sit comfortably on the grass without flashing anyone when you just wanna chill out.

Another festival favourite for me is anything with fringe!! I don’t know why, but I always think of fringe when I think of festival fashion. This is especially great when you find the perfect fringe jacket to wear. Since you’re at the festival all day, having something to throw on over your outfit for when it gets chilly at night is a necessity. I love this leather jacket because it’s lightweight yet the tiniest bit oversized, making it super comfortable to dance to the closing set in.

Now if you’re heading to Coachella this weekend or next, first of all, I’m extremely jealous! But secondly, make sure to enjoy your time and check out some of the AMAZING artists on the lineup! I’m actually really impressed with the lineup this year – definitely one of my favorites for 2018. One artist on the lineup (and is actually quite heavy on the festival circuit this year) that you definitely need to check out is Tash Sultana. If you haven’t heard of her yet, where have you been!? This girl started out busking the streets in Australia, and her popularity has since risen rapidly after videos of her performing on the streets and in her bedroom made their way onto Youtube. I’ve been obsessed with Tash Sultana for a while now, so the song featured today is Jungle – one of her most popular songs. You definitely need to take a listen to it below, or even better, go catch her set at Coachella on Saturday. I bet you’ll have the time of your life watching her shred that guitar and do her thang. She is one badass chick.

And if you’re not heading to Coachella this year, let me know if you’ll be heading to another music festival instead! I’ll be at Osheaga in Montreal this year (where I’m super stoked to catch Tash Sultana!!!!). For the time being though, you’ll find me streaming Coachella Live on Youtube all weekend. Also make sure to stay tuned for a full festival outfits post in the next few months. It truly is the most magical and wonderful time of the year.

NYC 2018 Photo Diary

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Dumbo, Brooklyn

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So much awesome graffiti in Dumbo!

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Mike’s Pizza

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Reformation Soho

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Artists & Fleas Soho

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Grand Central Station

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More graffiti art in Brooklyn, this time in Bushwick

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Even the subway stations are insta-worthy

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Family style meal at Pio Pio! SO much food

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Plant wall inside 1 Brooklyn hotel lobby

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The Butcher’s Daughter

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The Brooklyn bridge during sunset

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Inside MoMA: Van Gogh’s Starry Night

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LBDs inside MoMA

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Atop the Brooklyn Bridge

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Inside the Oculus of the World Trade Center

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Happy Hour oysters!!

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Last brunch at Jack’s Wife Freda

A few weeks ago I traveled to NYC with a girlfriend of mine. I’ve been to NYC several times before, but I don’t think I’ve ever been there in the winter, and I haven’t been there in a while considering 2014 was the last time I was in the Big Apple. Below is a little recap by category of the places we visited.

F O O D

Mike’s Pizza: Out first meal in the city was at this little pizza joint in Brooklyn. Definitely not the most well-known pizza place in NYC, and probably not the best you could find, but it was close to our Airbnb and it was still delicious. Definitely recommend if you’re in the area and are looking for a quick, tasty, and cheap bite.

Pio Pio: We came to this Peruvian restaurant on a Saturday evening for dinner. There are several Pio Pio’s in the city, but the one we went to was on E 34th St (close to Grand Central). Between the two of us, we ordered one of the set dinners and it was HUGE! Way more than enough food for two people. We had a whole chicken to share, along with salad, a plate of fries and sausage, plantains, and rice and beans. We were stuffed at the end and couldn’t even finish it all. The food was tasty, full of flavour, and the chicken was not dry, thankfully. I would definitely recommend Pio Pio if you have a big appetite or are in the city with your family and are looking for a more family-style meal.

The Butcher’s Daughter: Located in Greenwich Village, The Butcher’s Daughter is hands-down the best vegan meal I’ve ever had. I never even knew a plant-based meal could be so full of flavour and delicious until I ate here. I ordered the spaghetti squash carbonara, and literally I felt like my mouth was having an orgasm. It was cooked to perfection – the spaghetti squash was tender, and the cashew ricotta on top was the perfect amount of fluffiness. It was just delicious. Highly recommend The Butcher’s Daughter if you’re looking for delicious vegan options in the city.

Harry’s Italian: We came here on a Monday afternoon looking for bottomless mimosas and brunch. Unfortunately, we didn’t realize that the offer is only on weekends. Nonetheless, we both enjoyed our plates of pasta. The portion was substantial for the price, which was perfect because we were both starving after having walked around the city all morning. Harry’s Italian is a casual, family-style restaurant where they’ll have something to satisfy everyone.

Crave Fishbar:  As soon as the early evening rolled around on Monday, we were craving happy hour oysters.  And so we ended up at Crave Fishbar for their Happy Hour $1 oysters. Aside from oysters, we also tried the roasted cauliflower soup which was delicious! And it wouldn’t have been complete if we didn’t finish it off with oyster shots. I can’t really describe it, just that it was a lot going on in my mouth at once. Definitely interesting though. Crave Fishbar is definitely a cute and rustic spot to hit up if you’re in the mood to shuck back some oysters.

Jack’s Wife Freda:  Our last meal in the city was here for brunch before our flight. This location located in Soho is TINY! Just getting to our table was a struggle as I felt like I was brushing everyone’s backs as I walked by. The food was yummy, presentation was beautiful and the colours of the food made it totally Instagram-worthy. I had the green shakshuka with halloumi, and now I’m obsessed with halloumi. I’d recommend coming here for a nice brunch on a weekday as I can imagine how packed this place probably gets on the weekends.

N I G H T L I F E

Brooklyn Bowl: A 10 lane bowling alley on one side, a huge concert venue with GA standing space on the other, and a long bar at the back, this Williamsburg venue has got it all. Surprisingly, the Brooklyn Bowl is actually quite massive in size. Or maybe I’ve just never seen a venue quite like this in Toronto of this caliber. We came here on Friday night to catch San Fermin play a hometown show (and they were amazing!!!). Loved this place. Of course the drinks are not the cheapest, but the bartenders were friendly, the atmosphere was super chill, and the crowd was having a blast singing/dancing along to San Fermin that night. Definitely a really cool spot to come check out a local show.

The Duplex:  Located in Greenwich Village, The Duplex is a two-story piano bar where they sing show tunes up till 4 am every night. This night was hands-down the most fun night out I’ve had in a while. The top floor has a small bar where people can just sit and chat and the bottom floor is where all the action is with the piano bar. Anyone from the audience can go up and sing or request a song. The people here were so incredibly friendly. I had a blast singing along off-tune the entire night. I would highly recommend this place for a super fun and chill night out with some of the friendliest company you’ll find in NYC.

The Gutter Bar:  If you happen to find yourself in Long Island City by mistake like we did, head to The Gutter Bar for a fun night. We somehow got lost on the subway on Monday night and ended up here. Similarly to the Brooklyn Bowl, The Gutter Bar has a bar area where they apparently host live music as well as bowling alleys in the back. There was no live music when we came here, but I can imagine this being a very cool venue on a busier Friday/Saturday night instead. Definitely a very relaxed Americana vibe at this venue and lots of options to keep the drinks flowing.

S H O P P I N G

Soho: My favourite place in NYC to go shopping is definitely in Soho. They have everything you could be possibly be looking for including all your favourite fast-fashion shops to some of the world’s top designers, and a few awesome vintage stores tucked away in between. If you’re in the area, definitely check out Reformation on Howard street, Artists & Fleas for a cool market place of jewelry, vintage, and handmade knick-knacks from local artisans, as well as What Goes Around Comes Around for one of the best selections of designer vintage in the city.

Bushwick:  This Brooklyn neighborhood is probably not the first place you’d think of to go shopping, but if you’re looking for affordable vintage (and you know how expensive vintage can get in NYC), I definitely recommend checking out the vintage and consignment shops in this area. I hit up a staple consignment shop – Beacon’s Closet on Bogart St and happened to find the most perfect, vintage brown leather aviator jacket of my dreams (peep it here!). After keeping an eye out for one for the last two years and stumbling upon the perfect one here for only $55, I knew it was meant to be! This Beacon’s Closet location also had racks upon racks of everything vintage as well as some more contemporary pieces as well. About a 5 minute walk east of Beacon’s Closet, is a store called Urban Jungle. If you’re looking for vintage Levi’s, this is the place to come. I swear there are probably at least 10 full racks of vintage Levi’s to dig through. Urban Jungle is more of a thrift store and the prices definitely reflect that. Aside from denim, they’ve got a huge inventory of 90s flannels, sweaters, bombers and leather jackets as well. Come here if you love the thrill of the hunt!

S I G H T S E E I N G // T H I N G S  T O  D O

DUMBO: Probably everyone’s favorite place to come for a selfie is on Washington Street in this Brooklyn neighborhood. Here is where you’ll get the closest view of the Manhattan Bridge with the buildings on either side. You’ve probably seen this iconic picture everywhere (the first picture I posted above), and this is where it’s at. Dumbo is also a great place to walk around and check out the awesome graffiti art. Every corner you turn, there is new graffiti just waiting to be seen. Also talk a walk along the pier for amazing views of the Brooklyn Bridge with the breathtaking Manhattan skyline as your backdrop. If you’re feeling even more adventurous, you can even walk on top of the Brooklyn Bridge for the full experience!

MoMA:  I’m sure everyone’s heard of this famous contemporary art museum, but here I’ll mention it anyways. MoMA is a great place to come when the weather’s not looking to great outside, or you have a few hours to  kill in the city and aren’t sure what else to do. To be honest, I do feel like MoMA is a little over-hyped, and that’s why I would only recommend it under those circumstances. Most of the exhibits are well curated and thoughtful, but I guess I was just expecting MORE. For the price of admission, I do think it’s a bit steep. Apparently they have free Friday night admission, so perhaps this would make a good date night on a rainy Friday.

The Oculus:  If you’re sick of the traditional train stations (ahem Grand Central), come to the Oculus, the new transportation hub that was built to replace the PATH that was destroyed during 9/11. The Oculus was built to resemble a dove in flight from the outside, but I love the architecture from the inside, where you can see the symmetry of the modern architecture. A great place to view and snap some pics, all the while being apart of the chaos that is New York City.

That’s a wrap on this NYC recap! Let me know your favorite places to eat, shop, and hang out in NYC in the comments below and I’ll check them out when I’m back next time. I leave you with a song from Sam Fermin below. I had such a good time seeing them at the Brooklyn Bowl while I was in the city, that when I found out they were playing a show in my hometown of Toronto a week and a half later, I went and saw them again! Truly a group of talented individuals that each bring their own vibe to the band. Definitely give them a listen if you’re into Arcade Fire – I think you’ll enjoy San Fermin as well.

my top 5 concerts of 2017

As promised last week when I posted my Top 5 Albums of the Year, this week we’re talking about my Top 5 Concerts of 2017! Anyone that knows me, knows that I’m an avid and very frequent concert-goer. I mean, it’s the only way to FEEL the music you love, up close and personal with those who make it, while being surrounded by those who love it just as much as you do. In 2017, I was lucky enough to have the chance to see so many amazing artists and bands that narrowing this list down to only 5 was quite difficult. These five shows are the ones where not only did the band put on a performance worthy of a standing ovation, but also helped to cultivate a warm community at the show and made me feel the most sense of belonging.

5.   Alt-J @ Massey Hall, October 2017

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Alt-J’s tour this year was in support of their newest album, Relaxer. Although this album was a bit disappointing for me compared to their previous releases, their show made up for it. They played all of their most popular songs including Fitzpleasure and Breezeblocks, but what really made this show stand out to me was the lighting. I would even go so far as to compare their light show to that of Sigur Ros’ (whom I have also had the pleasure to see live), which says a lot, seeing as how Sigur Ros has won an award for Best Lighting at the Knights of Illumination awards in London.  Nonetheless, Alt-J sounded amazing live like I knew they would, and the lights contributed to the dark and mysterious ambiance. How fitting, since the show took place over Halloween weekend.

4.   Third Eye Blind @ Echo Beach, June 2017

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Ahh, what an exciting way it was to kickoff this past summer, with none other than seeing my favorite band of all time play their self-titled debut record live from front to back, for their Summer of Gods tour. Third Eye Blind being my favorite band automatically means that I go to every single show of theirs whenever they’re in town, and this year it was no different. Their Summer of Gods tour was to promote the 20th anniversary of their self-titled album in which they played the entire album from front to back, something that they’ve never done before. For me, this was so exciting, given that this would be my first time hearing them play some of my favorite songs live, songs that they don’t normally play live! Pretty sure I was almost in tears as soon as they played “I Want You” – this is a song that means the world to me, so much so that I even had part of the lyrics tattooed on my back. Of course, they also played their hits off the album such as Semi-Charmed Life and Motorcycle Drive By which had the crowd in such a good mood, singing along at the top of their lungs. You can definitely say that this show was more for nostalgic reasons, but still hands down one of my favorite 3EB performances ever.

3.   Benjamin Francis Leftwich @ The Mod Club, February 2017

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BFL is someone that I have listened to for many, many years, but for some reason, never had the chance to see live. This year it changed though. We saw him play on a cold winter day, but the show itself was anything but cold. BFL’s performance was simple – no fancy gimmicks, backing band, or even a backdrop at his show, it was just him and his guitar, and he rocked it. I love it when artists do stripped down shows because it really shows off their talent – raw and heartfelt, the way their music was meant to be heard. BFL has one of those soothing, smooth, deep voices that I feel like can cure almost anybody. That voice with just his guitar made it such an amazing and intimate performance. There was a point where he even jumped into the crowd and sang and played, with everyone just circling him. You could make out the crowd singing along, low under their breaths. BFL was definitely one of the most raw and beautiful performances of the year.

2.   Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness @ The Opera House, April 2017

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Andrew McMahon is hands down my favorite musician to see live. He has this way of making each and every one of his shows so upbeat, positive and full of energy that it’s easy to leave all your troubles at the door. I always have the best time at one of his shows.  This time around when I saw him back in April, there was a lot of personal stuff going on in my life, stuff that made me anxious and uncomfortable. But that night, it felt like I had no care in the world for any of that. I felt free and happy, singing and dancing along to all of his songs, just like everyone else in the crowd. Not once did those things that were bothering me even come to mind that night. At one point, Andrew even rode on top and through the crowd in an inflatable duck – something so fun, unique, and interactive that only he would come up with and only he could get away with. The majority of the show had Andrew playing a ton of songs off his new record which also came out in 2017, but also some old classics from his Jack’s Mannequin and Something Corporate days as well. You may remember from an older blog post (read it here!) how much Jack’s Mannequin’s music has meant to me over the years, especially during my high school days. Every time that I see Andrew McMahon live, it literally makes me feel like I am back in high school, young and free spirited with still an entire world out there just waiting to be discovered.

1.   Local Natives @ The Danforth Music Hall, March 2017 & Osheaga Music Festival, August 2017

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This may seem a bit biased and perhaps it is, seeing as you all know by now how much I love Local Natives. But aside from creating great music, these guys also create an amazing, dream-like show. This past year I was so fortunate to have the chance to see Local Natives twice – the first time at the Danforth and the second time at Osheaga music festival. Prior to this year, the last time I had the chance to see them was in 2014, so it had been a long time coming, also making it one of my most highly-anticipated shows of the year. And boy they did not disappoint. What makes a Local Natives show amazing is their synchronized vocal layering – something you hear in their songs, but is even more impressive and beautiful when heard live. On top of the great energy that they clearly have with each other and on-stage presence, it’s just not possible for these guys to put on a bad show. I remember at Osheaga while we were waiting (front row, of course) for Local Natives to come on, the couple beside us asked if we had ever seen them live and if they were any good. I excitedly told them that they are amazing live and that they would LOVE it. Right after Local Natives ended, the couple turned to me and said, “You were spot on. Those guys were awesome!”. I could not have agreed more, even telling some of our friends afterwards that I wish that I could “just die and live in that moment with them playing, forever and ever – my version of heaven.”

What a wonderful year of live music. I am so excited for all the upcoming shows and music festivals in 2018. What was your favorite show of 2017? I would love to read your experiences too!