The Best of 2018, As Told By Jessica Spottek
2018 was probably one of the most mediocre years in music, and to be blunt, I was only blown away by a few artists. If you don’t know me personally, think of me as that one girl in high school that went to every concert. Whether it be as a birthday gift or my guilty pleasure after a great paycheck, concert tickets were just my thing. I was raised with a mindset of experiences over materialism (thanks mom and dad), and never in my life have I regret it. This past year, I was grateful enough to have been a part of the music industry with KURE, but also in the sense of reviewing concerts and performances. I won’t talk about them all, but here are some of my personal favorite concerts that I attended in 2018 (no particular order):
Vinyl Theatre: Origami Tour (ft. Vesperteen and The WLDLFE)
The Prophet Bar- Dallas, TX
Being from Milwaukee, I have been a HUGE fan of Vinyl Theatre since high school. I remember the first time seeing them at the Rave (MKE) for the Big Snow Show when they opened for Walk the Moon and Fall Out Boy. They weren’t as well known yet in the local scene, but I totally was freaking out when I met/took pictures with the band for the first time. Since then, I’ve loved their music and seeing them live! For spring break 2018, me, Thomas (my boyfriend), and our friends Felipe and Leo, drove to Dallas to explore for a few days. Coincidentally, Vinyl Theatre was in town on tour! No way was I going to miss this! Super awesome venue, and laid back vibe. Before the show, I didn’t know of The WLDLFE. However, I can assure you that they are now one of my small alternative bands by far! I remember talking to the guys between sets, and they actually have some family from Iowa which is pretty cool. Vinyl Theatre had an awesome set, and this was when they released “Origami”, which is probably my favorite album besides “Electrogram”. If you’re into an awesome alternative rock performance, these guys have amazing setlists back to back. I was probably sweating from too much dancing and screaming! After the show, we reached our way to talk to the band and the funniest thing happened. The guys totally remembered me from like, four years ago! They thanked me for coming all the way down to Texas, and being a local supporter…pretty sure I cried inside. Such nice guys! So much awesomeness that Vinyl Theatre actually came to perform AT IOWA STATE in September! Make sure to find KURE’s soundcloud to listen to my interview with Keegan Calmes!
Caroline Rose: Loner Tour
Summerfest Music Festival- Milwaukee, WI
So I never was into female artists, and I believe that I’ve been missing out on a lot. You never heard me listening to Taylor Swift or Carrie Underwood. However, I came across an email in my inbox one day about an artist named Caroline Rose. What caught my eye about her was the album cover of “Loner”, which is a picture of her in a red tracksuit and about 20 cigarettes in her mouth. Come to my surprise, the entire album was absolutely amazing! I responded to the promoter, and said that Rose will definitely be on my Top 30 and Top Adds list for NACC Charts! Now, Summerfest has been one of my favorite things to do during Milwaukee summer. I cannot count on my fingers and toes combined of how many times I’ve been to the “World’s Largest Music Festival”. Knowing she’d be on tour soon, I was so excited to see Caroline Rose on the lineup! I had an internship this past summer, and I made sure that I was off for this day! I went to the show with Thomas, and met up with my friends Ashley, Lily, and Noah. Relating back to her album cover, I’m pretty sure that everyday is a normal day for her. She’s exactly as you’d think: one talented, beautiful goofball. Red tracksuit and everything! One of my favorite parts of her set was seeing her chug a can of beer, crushed it on her forehead, and proceeded to sing “Soul No. 5” (my absolute favorite song of hers). Such an amazing set, and meeting her was just as awesome! She signed a poster that KURE received in the mail with “To 88.5 KURE…fuck yeah bitches!”. That’s it. My day was made. Most iconic part about after the show was taking a picture with Caroline Rose and my favorite DJ from 88nine Radio Milwaukee, Dori Zori. Forever will remember this day! Check out Caroline Rose, you won’t regret it!
Arcade Fire: Everything Now Tour
Summerfest Music Festival- Milwaukee, WI
See? I told you that I spend my time at Summerfest! Now, this was one of the most last-minute concerts. However, one of my favorites from this past year. By this day, I was at Summerfest for four or five days. The lineup for the mainstage (tickets bought separately for the mainstage, as it’s a reserved seated concert at the amphitheatre) was pretty mediocre, but Arcade Fire was the very last day. It was weird because, even though they are one of the most popular bands in the business, the tickets were not even halfway sold out! I was trying to convince my friend Kyle to drive up from Iowa and see them with me, but the timing didn’t work. On the day of the show, my friend Ashley called me saying that she found a lady selling her center section tickets for $50/each and needed someone to go with! Obviously we went! I’m not super familiar with their music, but I knew some of the songs. “Reflektor” was a pretty amazing album, might I say. I remember finding it in the KURE office one day and screaming to my friend, realizing that we had it. The band is made up of more than ten people, so the stage was pretty well packed with various people and instruments (my favorite being the xylophone of different beer cans). The band’s attire was also so extravagant! This is one of my favorites from 2018 because the vibes in the amphitheatre were so real and I felt so alive. Arcade Fire’s music is so natural and pure…tell me you know what I’m talking about! I’ve never felt like this in so long, and I thank Ashley for begging me to go. Check out Arcade Fire, and PLEASE see them live if you have the chance!
Tame Impala: Not really a tour name….so yea
Pitchfork Music Festival- Chicago, IL
After being the External Music Director for almost my entire Freshman year at Iowa State, I was bound to attend other music festivals, including Pitchfork. Being our first time, Thomas and I went all three days, and will never regret a single minute! Unlike Summerfest, Pitchfork is much more relaxed and chill. It was one of those “bring your own blanket to sit on” festivals with local vendors and food options. The lineup was pretty decent, most of which were more new and upcoming artists. The headliner for Friday was Tame Impala, and I wasn’t going to miss them! I’ve seen them once before, but didn’t listen to their music at the time. Funny about this tour of theirs is that they haven’t released anything since their “Currents” album from 2015, so everyone knew every song. I think that I received this album for Christmas after I saw them the first time, and it’s one of my all time favorites by far. That Friday was super rainy and misty, so the evening was quite cold. However, Tame Impala put on one of the best performances at Pitchfork! I scream and sang to every single song in their set, and cried when they played “Eventually” and “New Person, Same Old Mistakes”. I’ve always loved their stage set: huge lights, laser beams, and psychedelic background screen. The rainy day made the beams look ten times more awesome to watch, and just the entire performance was fantastic! Tame Impala really knows how to put on a show…PLEASE see them if you ever have the chance to! Hopefully they will put out some new tracks (or even an album) within the next few years.
Nothing But Thieves: Broken Machine Tour (ft. Grandson)
The Truman- Kansas City, MO
Let me just start this with: I have the best boyfriend in the entire world! We were apart this summer, as I had an internship back home in Milwaukee. There was one time that I visited Thomas on the weekend, and one thing he wanted to do was lay out in his backyard and gaze at the stars. Obviously, I loved it! Then, he handed me something, and it was a pair of tickets for the Nothing But Thieves show in Kansas City! If you know me, you know NBT is my favorite band of all time, and I immediately started crying in his arms! Let me just say, this night was truly magical and fantastic! There was one slight problem to this…the show was on the day of a home football game, and I had to be there for Marching Band. Praise to the Lord that it was an 11am kickoff because we skrt skrted so fast to Missouri after that game to get to the show. Sweaty me, I looked so terrible for this concert. You know, us hipsters try to out”wear” each other sometimes at concerts. So obviously I’m crying when they come on stage and I’m screaming my head off to every single lyric of every single song. Their setlist was seriously fire, and they played old AND new stuff which was amazing! “Sorry” and “Particles” are my tearjerkers (believe me, I always skip on Spotify when I’m not ready to cry), and my makeup was actually running all over the place. Y’all ever have that experience where you’re in your man’s arms during your favorite song, you close your eyes, forget about the world, and just remember this moment? That’s exactly what happened, and I will never forget how amazing this night was. I truly believe that this was one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to in my entire life. The Truman was a plus too, awesome venue! Our first time! So we leave the show, and head to our Airbnb which was SO cool! It was a Speakeasy themed, and had a mini-bar for us too! Kansas City, I will be back! Definitely check out Nothing But Thieves, with their newest EP “What Did You Think When You Made Me This Way?”. I highly recommend any of their albums. They’re pretty amazing top to bottom!
Travis Scott: Wish You Were Here Tour (ft. Sheck Wes and Gunna)
Target Center – Minneapolis, MN
After meeting Thomas Dec. 2017, I don’t think I’ve ever listed to so much Hip-Hop music in my life. Travis Scott was probably one of my favorites that came out of this evolution of my music taste, and just had to see him after he dropped one of the best albums of 2018: “Astroworld”. I wasn’t the biggest fan at first, but it’s definitely one of those albums that forces you to like it after a while because society. This past year, Thomas and I really started traveling together, and it makes me so happy to go somewhere new with him. Now, I’ve been to the Twin Cities plenty of times. However, it was pretty awesome to go just with Bae this time! Obviously we visited Mall of America and ate like a local. We stayed the weekend with my friend Lauren, where she attends the University of St.Thomas (beautiful campus, let me say!). So huge tours with stadium sell-outs were never really my thing, but once in a while it can be pretty cool. We were way high up in the nosebleeds, but pretty close to the stage! Awesome view! Sheck Wes was the first opener, and it was just a meme the entire time because “Mo Bamba” and the Cyclone Marching Band and other memes to go along with it. Nonetheless, he was pretty good for a 25 min set. Gunna was after him, and wasn’t really sure about his set. He played that “Drip Too Hard” song before I even knew it but hey, pretty good song anyways! So there were general admission floor tickets as well, and this is where every white guy in a basketball jersey (even Thomas wore his) trying to act all trap-like with his hot girlfriend (I don’t fit this part though) stood for the concert. And there were so many people that ambulance had to carry out like three people BEFORE Travis even came on! Like what?! But hey, the start of the show was pretty awesome, and he had an amazing set. The “stage” setup was themed like an amusement park, like Astroworld in Houston, with a roller coaster connecting two stages. He was on the coaster with a fan singing “Can’t Say” and I was actually crying. Me, crying, at, a concert. Who knew it would be for Travis Scott? Anyways, the show was super cool, and every song was just awesome to hear live. He can definitely put on a performance, so check him out on this tour! To my Milwaukee friends, he’ll be at the Fiserv Forum on February 22nd! You won’t want to miss it!