Monday, June 25, 2012

Cannabis Food For Thought

What is the proper dose of medication in edibles and how strong do you want the product, asked Elise McDonough, author of The Official HIGH TIMES Cannabis Cookbook who moderated the Edibles Discussion Panel. Although many had differing opinions on product strength and usage, one theme was common though out, the proper dose is different for every individual and what their medical need is. “It’s as different as our fingerprints” commented Sandy Moriarty, instructor at Oaksterdam University.Self-declared foodie and food writer prior to medical user, Cheri Sicard said, “It’s not a one size fits all proposition, everybody is different, and not only is each person different but each plant is different” Unlike other forms of medication, cannabis does vary in strength and content, regionally, how its grown, where its grown, and many other factors.

“Ask your budtender what their shop recommends based on how you want to feel,” Bryce suggested.  Frederick Nesbitt, head chef of Cannabis Catering, also donates his time teaching patients how to make and use extracts responsibly and infuse into meals. He stated, “Less is more, as you get developed you’ll understand a bit more.” Sandy stressed the importance of starting small and waiting twenty minutes between each dose. “The only way to control the affects no matter what you’re using is to do titrating and break it down into small pieces, then you won’t get beyond your comfort zone and you’ll have a pleasant experience.”  Scott agreed “Like a rollercoaster, once you get on, you can’t get off… Be respectful of the plant we are using.”

Bryce Torres of Shaman Healers considered 15mg-20mg equaled one dose of THC, whereas Scott Van Rixel of Bhang Chocolate uses 60mg as his standard multi-use bar, with a maximum content of 180mg.  Scott was adamant that all producers of edible products should have their products properly tested to reflect actual strength, because “the active cannabinoid content is for patients .5 mg of THC is not the same as 5mg of cannabis.”  There is much more to the process of making and standardizing medical food products than simply adding THC and following cook times.  THC disintegrates at 380 degrees, however will have little or no effect on the human body until decarboxlyzation occurs, transforming into THCA.  CBDs, CBNs, and other cannabinoids can offset the high of THC, 10-50% depending how much is in the product.  This is not necessary a bad thing, however it does alter the medical effect and is always a concern for any cannabis cook.  For producers, finding the balance of CBDs and THC at the right therapeutic level is a process of trial and error.

Elise next brought up the issue of patient product selection of commercial medical edibles, specifically their nutrition content, unhealthy food choices, and how we can meet the needs of patients by offing better options.  All speakers agreed most medical edible foods sold in dispensaries are loaded with sugar, like cookies, brownies, chocolates, candy, etc.  For patients that have preexisting medical condition, such as diabetes or are on strict diets, these products may relive one symptom but potentially have an adverse effect on another.  Producers agreed that the doctors need to act responsibly and treat cannabis like any other medication. Take time to educate the patients, suggest a proper dose for the symptom, and suggest options for treatment.  Scott demanded, “The only way that we as producers can be responsible to patients, is our products need to have accurate mg dosing and content.”  Bryce agreed, “Packaging is a big issue in this industry.”

Behind Closed Doors: Commercial Cannabis Kitchens

Bhang Chocolate prides itself on having an ingredient list and nutrition facts on each edible, becoming the first cannabis company to get full product liability on their chocolates.  This is a step in the right direction, but Bhang is just one of many edible producers and although the making of these products is not illegal, it is illegal for a cannabis food maker to run out of a commercial, health inspected, industrial kitchen.  Shaman Healers is one of many companies that rents a commercial kitchen for after-hours usage, but by doing so the kitchen that holds the state registered kitchen license is in jeopardy of losing their license for having cannabis on site. 

“We should not be chastised for doing things the right way; we should be rewarded for it…. It’s against the law to do the right thing, and that’s what we are trying to change.” Scott pushed.  In the state of California, like many others, cannabis (even for medical use) is considered an adulterated substance or ingredient.  Actively trying to implement regulations and standards for all cannabis food producers, Scott has already filed the paperwork with the State of California to remove cannabis from the adulterated ingredient list, hoping to get this issue mandated by the end of the year.  If California makes the change, the state will be able to issue health permits, therefore allowing cannabis businesses to legally operated in a commercial kitchen under regulatory agencies.

Frederick too was interested in opening a restaurant four years ago, but was also blocked for a different legal reason, cannabis products do not follow HACCP requirements.  HACCP, Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point, is a “science-based food safety management systemthat has become the preferred method of ensuring safe food all over the world.” This agency requires data be kept for all grown and manufactured food, from seed, to water and chemicals used, all the way to your table; this is how food borne illnesses can be traced and recalls are effective.  “Cannabis, where does it come from? There’s no control over that. No regulatory information.” Frederick added. 

Scott put it this way, “Never in a million years would a grocery store buy something you made in your kitchen and sell it on their shelves.  Not only would they not do it, but it’s against the law, to protect the consumer. We are a step further because our consumers are patients, many whom have a compromised immune system. A small amount of bacteria can cause detrimental effects to a patient. The people that end up suffering in this lack of regulations are the patients.  It can only serve to benefit patients!” 
Delicious cannabis oil infused edamame - Unknown Vendor 24Jun2012

Home Baked: Cooking Cannabis at Home

For consumers that are intimidated by dispensaries and mystery medical edibles, learning to cook at home allows you to customize your diet to your needs and it’s really not that intimidating.  Bryce noted that although patients have not been requesting healthier products, many customers are purchasing cookbooks, watching demonstrations, and learning to cook at home.  There are many wonderful cookbooks and forums out there for every cook to educate themselves and also places like Oaksterdam University and teachers like Frederick, who touts of a 6 point infusion cooking demo that he provides his patients.

Cheri continuously advocated to making your edibles at home, proclaiming “the challenges of commercial edibles go away when you make it yourself.  Keep cooking at home and you’ll have the edibles that are right for you all the time.” By making cannabis infused foods at home you can control the ingredients and strength to fit your own dietary needs.  Both Frederick and Sandy whom spend their days teaching others how to cook and infuse food with cannabis in various forms, suggest you can make anything into a healthy medical edible.  “For whatever you’re making, all that matters in the end is that you are comfortable,” Sandy said. Scott added “The beauty of cannabis is there is a right way for each person in this room.”

Sandy insists “there really isn’t a recipe you can’t infuse!” and I think she’s right.  To prove that point, here are just a few simple yet ingenious recipe tips and ideas these panelists shared:
  • Rule #1: Always check your temperature and time scales. If cannabis is overcooked, its medical properties are lost at an exponential rate.
  • Butter is universal and often the simplest solution to infuse cannabis in your diet. *ProTip: When processing butter, most likely you will recook the butter in future recipes, do not decarboxlate THC during the initial cook.
  • Chocolate is a great option because it share reciprocal properties that are easy and effective to process. *Fact: Cocoa butter is the one of only fats that enters the body as a poly-saturated fat, releasing cannabanoids like that of prescription medications, elevating to bring you to titration point with a much slower metabolism for longer duration and slower comedown.
  • Alcohol, glycerin, and oils are an exceptional choice as all have either high metabolic rates.
  • For foods with high cooking temp, like pizza, cook first then drizzle with infused olive oil when removed from heat.
  • Try infusing with your favorite garnishes like salad dressing, hot sauce, or adding to can of nuts or trial mix.
  • Cook down flowers with sugar and water to create a simple syrup that can be added to cocktails, fruit, pie, etc.
  • If you are trying to avoid fats, oils, and sugar, its easy to add keif to any recipe after cooked.
  • Blend green leaf trim into fine power like flour, use to make bread, dough, or breading for chicken.
  • Try infusing small amounts into everyday foods like chicken stock or mashed potatoes.
  • If you do not like cannabis flavors in your food, try using with rosemary or other evergreen spices.
  • For a no-brainer approach, use infused oil in any crock pot meal.

I would like to personally thank each member of this discussion panel.  Elise (The Official HIGH TIMES Cannabis Cookbook), Sandy (Aunt Sandy's Medical Marijuana Cookbook), Scott (Bhang Chocolate), Cheri (The Cannabis Gourmet Cookbook), Frederick (Cannabis Catering) and Bryce (Shaman Healers). I feel I learned so much valuable information I am deeply grateful, enlightened, and inspired.  

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Wrapped Up: 2012 San Francisco Cannabis Cup

The breeze off the San Francisco bay was a perfect match for the unusually warm blue sunny sky, not a cloud on the horizon. Being our 1st High Times Cup, we went in not knowing what to expect, imagining something between a Snoop Dog video or a baked out Bill Nye lecture.
To my surprise it was unlike anything I could have imagined, centered around talk of CBD’s, CBN’s, dabs, concentrates, and oils were taking over the cannabis industry with a whole new approach. It was Medical, focusing on cleaner, richer, more potent, and strain specific qualities.  Properties of each specific strain and type are being studied, measured, and extracted so they can be used more effectively and properly prescribed. From medical edibles to legal barriers and underground movements, I found the panels all very interesting and educational.  It’s amazing to see how far things have come; cannabis culture has grown from a hippie back culture to the front grounds of the medical world.

After having spent the entire afternoon dabbling in the finest extracts, hash, flowers, and other concoctions, I was completely blown away.  I know what you’re thinking, but not just flying high, I was impressed on every level, from ingenuity in butane powered glass water pipes, to extraction processes, new techniques, and the integrity of all businesses, from the growers to the candy makers.  At every booth we were greeted by intelligent and knowledgeable people eager to share their contribution to the industry and cup this year.  Cannabis if on the forefront of new discoveries, uses, healing powers, etc. it’s true power is becoming harder to deny.  I left each day floating on a cloud, my head swimming with a whole new understanding of cannabis and how truly endless our possibilities are using this magical plant.

Without a doubt what made this event truly amazing were the people. It was truly inspiring to see so many people re-inventing their craft, adapting to the medical and consumer market. The care and attention to detail and love for what they do is apparent in everything they create.  Whether their product was a credit card sized grinder or butane powered glass or organic vegan herbal chocolates, everything was being rethought and produced with exceptional quality.  Our hats go off to the people from High Times magazine that bought this event to the states and to all those working in and revolutionizing the forefront of medical marijuana.
For those not fortunate enough to attend this spectacular event, our highlight rundown is full of information, many of those in the Prop 215 tent, and the cup winners. Enjoy!

Kush Konnection: Won 2nd place Indica for Master Yoda Kush. Also took BEST Hybrid at 2012 LA Cannabis Cup.Yoda Man Kush Konnection! These guys got the award winning mastery down. Offering killer deals on their Master Yoda in both flower and concentrate form, they weren’t afraid to share and prove their award winning
The Cali Connection: Won BEST Hybrid for Larry OG Kush and also 3rd best Booth. YES.  They were handing out dabs like nothing to show the quality of their unique nail style glass water pipe. But that is not what made these guys so bad ass, it was there attention to detail, in raising new standards to the art of dab. This was one of our favorite pipes for its clean and smoothness, but ability to melt your face.  Excellent dabs and excellent products.
Hitman Glass: Won BEST Glass. Many intricate and top notch glass pieces that were well worth the price.  Water pipes with spun glass centers of Boba Fett, Predator, serpents, sirens, and other designs that also served as diffusers. Spent time with us to explain their new butane bongs which eliminates the use of a torch for harsh and wax hits.  Scientifically created products that they were confident to stand behind.  Amazing products.
Purple Dinosaur: Loved this booth, they had some of my favorites of the whole event. These smart growers took pride in their harvest and were proud to give generous samples and discuss their flowers. I was blown away with their great selection all made from purple dinosaur, a sweet dank indica. I made sure to try one of each of their products, all of which got a stellar rating. Everything from the hashish, oils, buds, waxes, kief, and even brownies were so top notch, I purchased many and got a sweet purple dinosaur t-shirt as a bonus!

Hills Pharmacy: Won BEST Edible for their Eleve Gourmet Veganic Medicated Truffles, and BEST CBD for MCU ATF Bubble, by Master Control Unit. Highly impressed with Hills’ quality of product, presentation, and information. Our token was a glass jar of Silver Jack Reserve.  One of my favorites!
Harborside Health Center: Won 2nd place CBD for Lemon Remedy. Great staff and booth setup. Dab and hash based products were on sample with the choice of three unique water pipes, the bubbler style steamroller being our favorite. Excellent products and great staff.
Mama P’s: Won BEST Product for Mama P’s Grinder and BEST Booth and it’s not hard to figure out why.  Each time you entered the Prop 215 area, you were greeted by the friendly staff of Mama P’s and encourages to try a serving tray of delectable edible samples. Everything we tried from fruit loops bars, to choc-chip cookies, to the brownies; all were delightful and certainly effective!
Phillips Rx: This booth, staff, and products had come to us highly recommended by High Times staff themselves.  These dedicated and hardworking growers spent time talking with us about the growing process.  Everything from the learning curve and time necessary to produce such quality products and the process start to finish.  Their Mars strain was entered for the cup but did not win, but won our hearts and was one of our take home favorites.

Crystal Fog: Staff happy to pass you a joint while making deals on glass.  Happy to accept and make a deal.  5mm glass honeycomb 120 percolator giant bubbler was well worth it, even if it was a foggy transaction.

Dopeass Glass: Won 3rd place for Glass.  This Las Vegas native has come a long way in the industry and his glass continues to impress many across the country.  His unique use of copper and other melting techniques gives his products a distinctive artist signature and always intricate design.

Elemental Wellness: Won 2nd place Sativa for Yogi Diesel and 2nd best Booth. Also had medicated smoothies Irish Moss: Medical Cannabis – Elixir of life
Playbud Delivery Service: Won BEST Sativa for Premium Jack Herer.  First place we got to experience the event, and what a great place to start.  That first dab definitely put us in perspective of what we were in store for all weekend, non-stop sampling of the BEST cannabis products on the market!

Mother Nature: Good quality flower products as well as edibles.  Top notch grass and service.  It was a tough choice between the Chem Dog and Blue Velvet, but either way, I feel I made the right choice! 

Sweet Stone Candy: Purchased a mini cheesecake and choco-oreo mini cake that put us both down hard. Large selection of edible sweets, including jams, cakes, pies, cookies, brownies, lollipops, cereal, snack bars, chocolate covered nuts, and the list goes on.  Great booth, great prices.
Pulse Glass: Won 2nd place for Glass.  Great quality glass products in all shapes and sizes for every smokers need. Knew one of the lucky winners of their raffle and got to try one of their larger water pipes.  I must say it was a super clean design and I loved the platinum inlay of the brand.  Stylish and efficient.

Treescake Factory: Booth offered both flowers and edibles ranging from healthy snacks to sweets.  We enjoyed some delicious wontons coated in hash oil with a peppery sauce.
Chronic Candy: Absolutely loved a candy sample I got at Champs a few years back and have been dying to try their tea drink since.  Happy to see their booth with rows and rows of drinks and candies.  I spent some time sampling and enjoying their products.

iMedz: Beautiful selection of flowers and females that were happy to show off their buds.  This dispensary offers their customers at least 20 strains and 15 concentrates available to fit your every need.  It’s hard to touch that!
Bhang Chocolates: Business owner, Scott Van Rixel blew my mind with his comments during the edibles panel.  The knowledge and work he has put into making quality chocolates that fit patients’ needs is astounding.  Although I did not get a chance to sample these chocolates, I have no doubt they are amazing both in taste and quality.
Cousin Mary Jane: Small group made scrumptious toasted hemp seeds. Fantastic crunchy snack, almost like eating light mini popcorn.  Sold by varying weights at great prices.  I could easily see myself eating these by the handful.

Body Bud Botanicals: Specializing in topically applied cannabis oils and lotions to soothe and relief pain.  Ladies rubbed small amount of oil to my hands. Within minutes, my skin felt warm and soothed.  Similar to that of a menthol pain relief rub but much more pleasant.
A²C² – All American Cannabis Club: This Bay area medical club offers their members at least 51 types of cannabis, concentrates, edibles, and much more at two locations, six days a week. Also always willing to hook up new members to prove they got it.

Weed Maps: Handed out free necklaces and lanyards to hype their services. This company has been around since the start and also has been working on changing medical marijuana laws from the frontlines.
CannaCig Vapor Inhaler: Not a winner this cup, but definitely a popular one with consumers.

Buds and Roses Collective: Won BEST non-solvent Hash for Solvent-less BAMF Mix Hash, BAMF Extractions and also won 3rd place CDB for Harlequin.
San Jose Patients Group:Won BEST Indica for Cordero Kush Platinum.
Superior Extracts for West Coast Cures:Won BEST Concentrate for Hardcore OG Budder.
Granddaddy Purple Collective: Won 2nd place Hybrid for Ken's Phantom.
Tea House Collective: Won 2nd place Edible for their CannaChocolate 44/8mg THC/CBD.

LA Confidential Caregivers: Won 2nd place Concentrate for OG Super Sexy Budder.
KO Domeless Nail:Won 2rd place Product for the KO Nail.
Santa Cruz Mountain Natural:Won 3rd place Sativa for XJ-13 Cracker Jack.
Buddy's Cannabis: Won 3rd place Hybrid for OG Sky.
Greenway Compassionate Relief Inc.: Won 3rd place Edible for their Spice Orange Drops.
Sonoma County Collective: Won 3rd place Indica for Cherry Cola.
Venice Medical Wax Centers: Won 3rd place Concentrate Unfuckwitable OG Wax.
V-Syndicate: Won 3rd place Product for The Grinder Card.
The 3rd Annual San Francisco High Times Medical Cannabis Cup was at The Craneway Pavilion in Richmond, California June 23 and 24, 2012.  The public event was open to all adults 18 and over for the low weekend rate of $80, which included a goodie bag, access to the expo, Prop 215 area, and musical guests including Del the Funky Homosapian. Guests that did not have a medical license could still enjoy the artists, guest speakers, vendors, and the awards without consuming any medical products.  But for those that like to dabble, the Prop 215 area was like a cannabis candystore full of samples, edibles, flowers, and new products from the finest producers in the industry.
...written by dot.shiva and jim.stone ~ 2012

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Florence and The Machine

Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine has certainly enjoyed a whirlwind of success in her early career. Florence gained quick recognition on the 2008 festival circuit from fans and critics alike, even catching the BBC's eye at SXSW, consequently landing a spot BBC Introducing in September 2008. Florence was even nominated for the 2009 Mercury Music Prize, an honorary award for new UK artists, before the release of her debut album Lungs. As a fan, I too was just as eager to praise her name, "Dare I say, watch out Tori Amos, I believe Florence and the Machine is bound to take your throne..." @dotshiva 11Jun2009

On April 18, 2010 I got my first chance to see Florence and the Machine live at Coachella, however due to the massive crowd with the same idea and me being vertically challenged, I never actually saw her. Needless to say, when I found out she would stop in Las Vegas between her 2012 Coachella shows, I knew this was my best chance to finally be satisfied. Florence's popularity again won, completely selling out the show weeks in advance. Bless my lucky stars, somehow the heavens aligned and granted my wish to see Florence and the Machine.
Entering the stage just as angelically as I could have imagined, draped in a heavy, almost royal robe, Florence slowly broke the silence with her radiating voice. As she sang, Florence moved with such emotion and energy, it was as if she was singing and acting out each verse to the gods watching above us. During What the Water Gave Me, she threw off her dark cape to reveal a stunning silver sequined gown that shimmered gold in the light.

Florence continued through her incredible performance standing tall and as brilliant as an Emmy. Backed by an equally talented backup singer, harp player, and five other band members, the music perfectly reflected her voice's grace and intensity. The setlist and performance of songs was like floating on ocean waves; peaceful, beautiful, mixed with both ferocity and a soothing calm.
Keeping a lighthearted attitude alive after performing emotional songs was the key to her hold on the audience. Before playing Rabbit Heart, Florence encouraged all men to raise it up, "Put your girl on your shoulders and raise her up!" She also encouraged everyone to start jumping in sync to start Dog Days Are Over. Whether she got the crowd going or held us hypnotized in her voice, Florence and the Machine knocked her audience dead with exquisitely poetic song and dance.

Near the last song, Florence gazed over the audience to view the neon glow of the Las Vegas strip beyond and exclaimed, "This is definitely the most beautiful place we've ever played!" She laughed and continued, "Vegas is the best place for a nervous breakdown... it's amazing; so beautiful... You should go there!" I can only hope this means she will be back sooner rather than later. Florence and the Machine truly put on a world class performance that those in attendance will not soon forget.

VIDEO coming soon!

SETLIST: Only If For A Night, What the Water Gave Me, Cosmic Love, Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up), Breaking Down, Heartlines, Leave My Body, Lover to Lover, Shake It Out, Dog Days Are Over, Never Let Me Go
Encore: You've Got the Love, No Light, No Light

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Skrillex with Bare, Flinch, Sluggo and Presto One

Perhaps the most anticipated parties to kick off the summer right was Skrillex at Crown Nightclub. It could be said that Skrillex is enjoying the best year ever, experiencing a huge surge in popularity and demand, after being signed to mau5trap and touring with Deadmau5 in 2010. Thanks to crews like Frequnecy, Las Vegas' underground electro scene is starting to regrow and beginning to pull in some of the best electronic artists worldwide. This event which also included Bare, Flinch, Sluggo, Presto One, and Scotty Boy, did not disappoint as it nearly sold out the venue.
Scotty Boy and Presto One warmed up the crowd before midnight, mixing it up between pop and dubstep beats. Setting the vibe, the party didn't start to get wild until Sluggo began hitting the bass cannon for minutes at a time. As the crowd moved away from the bars onto the floor, the energy in the room swelled as the killer beats just kept coming one after another. As a tease of things to come, Skrillex came out onstage to announce Flinch, doing a quick little mix with him before exiting.

Flinch only continued to build on the energy Sluggo had started, making an effort to only hit those bass beats harder. Songs bleed from one into another, as minutes faded away seemingly unnoticed by the tranced out crowd. Within no time, Skrillex came out treating the audience to a new song he had written earlier that day in his hotel room. Within just a few minutes of introducing himself with My Name is Skrillex, the dancefloor was solid and moved as one. Inflatable monkeys, palm trees, and other pool toys danced their way across the sea of hands in the air.

His popularity with fans shined through when he played Kill Everybody, dropping the beat perfectly for the audience to sing along with. Loving every second of his set, Skrillex was jamming and slamming on his equipment, creating super hard dirty beats. While playing Scary Monster and Nice Sprites, he held a loud tone and announced, "I'm gonna make some monster sounds for you guys, cause I like making monster sounds!" lifted up his midi controller and continued to dump screeching sounds.

Not only was he a genius with live beats, Skrillex knew how to hype the party; taking time away from his booth, walking out into the crowd to take pictures, asking guys to put their ladies on their shoulders, even jumping out to crowdsurf, it was perfect. Everything about his show, from the sickest beats to unforgettable moments, everyone in the house was left danced out and mind-blown. Skrillex humbly left the stage giving the audience a heartfelt speech, "I'm here because of you guys man, seriously. Without you there isn't me, I swear to god. I'm just a normal boy making music, because I love music!"

After a last minute cancellation of his performance at Skream, to wrap up the evening last up was Bare. Not holding back or simply playing ambient/trance, Bare did a great job keeping the energy high following Skrillex. Mixing his heavy bass dubstep, Bare kept the floor packed until nearly 4 am, many fans only leaving due to pure exhaustion.

I have nothing but great things to say about this show. It has truly restored my faith in the Las Vegas underground electronic scene. If fans keep turning out in high numbers to these parties, we will only see the international and breakout artists continue to make a stop here. This summer alone, Las Vegas has the privilege of hosting Electronic Daisy Carnival, The Matinee Festival, and The Love Festival. The little raver in me that I thought died in the early 2000s with liquid dancing is coming back with force and I love it!

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Dan Band with 51FIFTY

As part of their Monday Night Rocks concert series, Crown Nightclub inside the Rio welcomed The Dan Band, giving away most tickets free of charge. I caught their last Las Vegas show at The House of Blues in August 2010 and was quickly reminded of how fun their live performance is. I gathered a group of friends, we all printed free tickets and headed out to spend the evening rockin' out with The Dan Band.

When we arrived, there was a DJ spinning retro pop songs that continued for nearly an hour. While it was fun to dance to everything from Jackson 5 to Tone Loc, this continued for nearly an hour. Everyone awkwardly stood, at times dancing, but mostly just staring at the drum-kit raised in the middle of an otherwise empty stage. As there was no opening act listed on the ticket, the crowd was surprised when local artists 51FIFTY took the stage.
51FIFTY is a DJ/drummer combo group made up of DJ Presto One and drummer Dustin J, accompanied by a female go-go dancer. While Presto spins a mix of top 40, hip-hop, electro, and rock, Dustin J rocks out on his drums, keeping the beat strong through every song. This live banging drums to a DJ mixed beat was highly dynamic, felt and sounded great live. I found the majority of the audience intensely focused on the drummer's high energy and mad skills, such a sight it was hard to look away.

Even though 51Fifty played an hour set, it felt like twenty minutes compared to another long wait full of retro pop mash-ups. As the restless began to rampantly spread through the crowd, the intro videos for The Dan Band began playing just before midnight. Following the same show format as what I saw on Still Hungover Tour, Dan and his sidekicks ran through several dance routines to many classic songs. Adding their own comedic touch to each song, Dan continuously joked with the audience, never leaving a dull moment.

At the close of their set, Dan jokingly announced, due to a "contractual obligation" we are coming back out for an encore, then back out again! True to their word, they returned after their on-point Single Ladies cover (completely choreographed with the Beyonce video behind them) for a double encore.

The Dan Band put on an entertaining show, full of memorable moments and comical improv conversations with the audience. It was unfortunate that the show ran so late on a Monday evening, as I am sure most were not able to stay through the final encore. Otherwise, this was another top notch performance by The Dan Band.

If you are not aware of, or are interested in seeing The Dan Band the next time they stop in Las Vegas, please visit their website.

Setlist included: Free Your Mind (En Vogue), Fernando (ABBA) Ring My Bell (Anita Ward), Hold On(Wilson Phillips), Nasty (Janet Jackson), Lady (Styx), Shoop (Salt N' Pepper), Tyrone (Erykah Badu), Whenever Wherever/Hips Don't Lie (Shakira Mix), Genie In A Bottle/No Scrubs/Slave 4 U (Christina, TLC, Britney), Don't Cha/My Humps/Milkshake (Pussycat Dolls, Black Eyed Peas, Kelis), Total Eclipse of the Heart (Bonnie Tyler), Single Ladies (Beyonce).

Thursday, March 17, 2011

PubStep with SKREAM

To make one of the best party nights of the year even better, this St. Patrick's Day Frequency and Crown Nightclub treated guests to Pubstep featuring Skream. If you are unfamiliar, Skream is a producer hailing from the UK that has created thousands of beats and is credited for helping not only define, but also expand the dubstep genre.

The pure excitement for this event was described best by Frequency "This March we're bringing all the debauchery back, at a bigger club with an even bigger headliner....we've wanted to bring him out for years, and finally we have an opportunity. Proudly making his first Vegas appearance... SKREAM!"
Prior to Skream taking the stage, Hot Pink Delorean, Terravita, Metaphase, Rize and Quiet warmed up the crowd. This party was a slow burner, as the dancefloor remained sparse until Terravita started blasting the bass. Hot Pink Delorean continued to bump the hard beats, both doing their job getting the crowd to their boiling point right as Skream took to stage.

Skream handled the dancefloor like a master, melting from one song into another through his expansive collection. As the dance frenzy reached it's peak, the stage was again swarmed with people and several emcees were on the mic. Just like all the producers before, the emcees cheapened the beats and killed the flow for me.

Although the DJs made great beats all evening, the emcees constantly crowded the stage and muddied the beats with their rhymes. Now don't get me wrong, I have seen many emcees freestyle over a hard dubstep beat and rock the crowd harder than the music alone could; however, that was not the case this evening.

Overall this booze soaked party was a great time that continued all night. This perhaps being the only chance I may get to see Skream, I continuously danced along in rhythm with a smile on my face. I do hope the emcees start to drop off as a trend, as I would not like to see a similar situation at many of the upcoming parties.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Vegas StrEATS Festival

Although skipping the RedBull SoundClash afterparty with The Glitch Mob at Studio 54 was tough to pass up, I was already too much looking forward to reppin' Las Vegas' first Vegas StrEATS Festival. This free event was held downtown in the El Cortez Promenade, featuring several local food trucks (Slidin' Thru, Fukuburger, Sloppi Jo's, Tasty Bunz, Cheese Steak, Curbside Cafe, Island Breeze, Snow Ono Shave Ice), live art demonstrations, many local vendors, drink specials, and a band lineup put forth by Neon Reverb.
From the SoundClash, we brought four new friends from the UK along with us for the ride of a true downtown Vegas experience. After a few drinks, more new friends, and a birthday celebration inside a bar at The El Cortez, we headed outside to an equally enthusiastic crowd. The entire promenade was full of socializing people, food trucks, tents, and a stage capping the area. After hanging out for a bit, dancing, and talking with a few familiar faces, we headed down Fremont.

Not only was the El Cortez area a buzz with music and crowds, so was the entire Fremont Strip and under The Experience. We watched The Experience show right at midnight, which wowed and confused our British friends, stopped in a few casinos, and just went with the flow. On our way back to the Vegas StrEats Festival we stopped in the equally packed Griffin and Beauty Bar. For a moment we were greeted by a man dressed in a full bunny costume out front, and I laugh now because only in Vegas would this not seem weird at all until the next day looking back.
After returning to the festival area, many were still in line for the delicious street food, as the trucks and event staff were running low on supplies and energy. By contrast, the alcohol fueled bodies that walked around downtown were fully charged and the party continued into the early hours. It was such a pleasure to see downtown Las Vegas buzzing with people, locals mixing with tourists, and a memorable evening that downtown is all about. Fellow locals, Las Vegas is stepping up our culture, be sure to get out there and support your local scene!

Red Bull Soundclash - CeeLo Green vs The Ting Tings

Making a happy decision, RedBull chose Las Vegas as one of the cities to help kick off the 2011 spring break season with a bang. The RedBull SoundClash is a special concert series featuring two artists with different styles, playing on opposing stages, competing back and fourth for a total of 5 rounds. This event born in 2009 has seen many great performances across the country, tonight under a neon lit sky, Las Vegas welcomed CeeLo Green vs The Ting Tings.
"Epic contest for musical supremacy ... will push them to the limits of their musical creativity"

This one time event was a steal at only $10 a ticket and was stiff competition to all other events that evening. Outside across from the beaming Luxor on a beautiful Las Vegas evening, six thousand fans arrived to watch the battle between CeeLo Green and The Ting Tings. This was a well planned event hosted by LaLa Anthony and live DJ Mick Boogie, there were many activities, redbull infused cocktails, and within an hour fans were buzzing with more than just excitement.

Since this event was different than most concerts, having each band play back and forth, reviewing it as two separate artists/performances is difficult. So let me begin by stating that both CeeLo and The Tings put on unique and high-energy acts round after round. I believe the best way to approach sharing the experience of this concert will be achieved by breaking it down round by round.
Round 1 - Warmup: Each artist completes three songs. CeeLo kicked off the show first with Lady Killer, Brіght Lights, аnd Crazy. Backed by his highly attractive all female band, CeeLo and the ladies kept it going strong, but were held back by a bad sound mix all evening. The Ting Tings answered back with ferocity playing Keep Yουr Head, Hit Mе Down Sonny (a new song), аnd an intense version of Shut Up аnd Lеt Mе Gο in which Katie killed a bass drum.

Round 2 - Cover (DJ drops track - Band covers track): After LaLa introduced the round, Mick Boogie began playing Should I Stay or Should I Go by The Clash, meaning both bands would take a turn covering this song. Just a few moments later, CeeLo kicked it off with a rock and roll style cover and the Tings wrapped it up with a indie-pop version, both doing great on the fly.

Round 3 - TakeOver (One artist starts - The other finishes): Similar to the cover round, this time one band starts one of their songs, the other covers the remainder of the opposing artists' song. The Ting Tings selected Be The One and Fruit Machine to pass over to CeeLo.
Round 4 - SoundClash (DJ drops track - In style): Each band had to play one of their songs in the DJ Mick Boogie selected style, reggae, an excellent choice I must add. This was perhaps CeeLo's strongest moment, where despite the audio problems, his voice jived well with the groves of his band and got the sea of fans dancing. The Ting Tings successfully converted their heavily electronic Great DJ and pulled off a smooth/slow version of We Walk in full reggae style.

Round 5 - WildCard: During this final round, each band welcomed a special guest to help them rock the house and close their performance. CeeLo once again reunited his original crew, Goodie MOB, closing his show with Get Rich to This to a pleased audience. The Ting Tings took a lighter approach, getting an Elvis impersonator to roughly join in on their hit That's Not my Name.

For a special encore, CeeLo welcomed the Tings on his stage and together they performed CeeLo's chart topper Fuck You. A mix of the incredible music we had all just experienced and the roughly four redbulls we had each consumed at this point, fans cleared out slowly. Many of us stayed creating several dance circles to the continued DJ mix and made many new friends in the crowd. This event truly was "Epic" as advertised by RedBull and confirmed by the fans in attendance.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Sneak Peak: Celine Dion's Return to Las Vegas

A New Day, Dion's first engagement at The Colosseum in Caesars Palace ran March 2003 through December 2007 and was seen by 3 million people. This show, produced by Franco Dragone (Cirque du Soleil), backed Celine's incredible voice with stunning artistic displays and was a huge success for everyone involved. Needless to say, both Caesars Palace and Celine Dion were ecstatic to reunite for a new 3 year, roughly 210 show engagement.
By happenstance I found myself invited to attend a special preview of her new show entitled Celine before it's premiere on March 15th, 2011. This performance was a real treat as we got to see every number they rehearsed, whether it would make each night's cut or not. As the lights went down, a short video was shown that encapsulated her time away from Las Vegas, in which she completed two albums, a world tour, and gave birth to twin sons just last year. This intimate look into Celine's life and love of her family was a touching theme that ran throughout the show.

A striking contrast to acrobatics and artists, Dion's show took a more simplistic and iconic approach. This was realized by stage design that included modular lit platforms, starry skies, moving screens, delicate backdrops and a beautifully lit stage that spilled across The Colosseum walls captivating an entire audience of 4,000. With each new song or set change, I continuously found myself more and more impressed not only visually, but by her voice that rang clear as a bell against the harmony of a 31 piece live orchestra.

Celine perfectly sang each song, which included her most popular hits, a few silver-screen surprises, and a touching french song that brought her to tears. Celine and her orchestra performed a variety of music, sampling from many of her favorite artists including Carole King, Billy Joel, Journey, The Beatles, and even gave a touching tribute to Michael Jackson. Fans were astounded by the show, as song after song, through the burst of applause I heard the audience buzz with "Wow," "I love this song," and an occasional "We love you Celine!"

For any Celine Dion fan, this show is an absolute must see. For all others, seeing is believing. I found the spectacle alone impressive enough to understand why Celine sells out nearly every 4,000 seat show. To purchase tickets or get more information about Celine, please visit the official website.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

311 with RNR

It seems just like yesterday that for the first time Las Vegas hosted the annual 311 day, back in 2010. Although I was not fortunate enough to snag a ticket in the few minutes before they sold out, 311 once again showed Las Vegas love by kicking off their spring tour at The Joint. Despite being fan since the release of their 1995 "Blue Album," I was still a virgin to seeing 311's live show. Needless to say, with 15 years for my imagination to run wild, I was beyond excited to see this show.

Opening was Las Vegas' own hip-hop groove band 702. This massive eight piece band consists of a highly technical guitarist, intense bass, keys, and drums, all feeding the beat to four emcees. Their songs ranged from groovy beats to loud rock, channeling several styles, from Jurassic Five to Rage Against the Machine. RNR was highly dynamic, captivating the audience and getting the crowd spun like they were the main act. I was truly impressed by everything they brought to the Joint, and it's been a while since I could say that about a homegrown band. Truly innovative and sure to go somewhere, be sure to do your part, show some Vegas love and take a moment to give RNR a listen.
Before 311 took the stage, fans began rushing down to the floor and "three-eleven" chants began breaking out of the over-anxious crowd. 311 started off hard, wasting no time whipping the fans into a frenzy. Nick Hexum addressed the thousands of cheering fans, "What's up Vegas! Welcome to the first show of 2011. Thanks for comin' out. Let's get loose and have some fun; what do ya say?" 311 definitely brought the fun, playing mostly songs from their back catalog, fans sang along and danced through a groovy two-hour performance. Despite throwing a rather plain show relying only on house lighting, this allowed Hexum's ambient voice and the music to shine even stronger through. I was thoroughly impressed with 311's incredible performance and hope to catch many more in the future. The next day, 311 posted on their facebook, "Thanks Vegas!! Great fun was had by all." 311 also gave fans a link to their incredible setlist, which consisted of many old tracks and rarities that surely please everyone in the house. Fortunately I captured several of these rare moments on video. [Notably Part II: A wicked drum circle with all members on drums following Applied Science, Part III: Eons, and Part IV: Mindspin]

Part I - RNR, 311: Intro / Sick Tight, Beautiful Disaster
Part II - 311: Welcome, Mixed Up, Applied Science (entirety)
Part III - 311: Eons, Omaha Stylee, and Down.
Part IV - 311 Encore: Mindspin and Feels Good