2015 in review: Top albums and gigs

Below are two lists: my top 10 favourite gigs of the year, and top 10 favourite albums.

Top 10 gigs

1. Pokey Lafarge – Corner – 9 April – Brilliant stage presence, such a tight band and so, so much fun! Pokey was my gig of the year for many reasons, but mostly because it caught me off guard (going in with little idea what kind of show it would be). He is such a great performer with an endless, genuine energy, his band was spectacularly good, and the show kept a solid dance party going without a moment’s rest.

2. Paolo Nutini – Palais – 1 April – ‘Iron Sky’ gave me shivers and ‘Pencil Full of Lead’ had me dancing – such was the versatility in Paolo’s theatre show. This performance showed an evolution to headliner status, with huge stage presence and the songs to back it. This one also had some of the funniest heckling.

11.4 PAOLO

3. Florence + the Machine – Sidney Myer – 10 November – No one receives a crowd quite like Florence. She brought everything to this show, embracing the crowd both figuratively and literally. How anyone can run and dance so much while singing like that is incredible.

11.1 FLO

4. Father John Misty – Meredith Music Festival – 12 December – Pipping his own sideshow for a place in my favourites, the reception Father John Misty (rightly) received in the Sup played a big part in this rating so highly. Hilarious, sarcastic, soulful and what great hair…

5. Marlon Williams – Corner – 3 July – The most memorable encore of the year. Marlon loves a few covers, but the double of The Zombies ‘Time of the Season’ and Screamin Jay Hawkins’ ‘Portrait of a Man’ was perfect.

6. Montaigne – NSC – 6 November – Another real surprise of a gig. I knew Montaigne had a cool voice, but wow can she sing. This felt like the start of something massive.

7. The Basics – NSC – 24 February – 3 hours of tunes and silliness and working on the spot with occasional sheet music from the crowd, this was one of the more memorable Basics gigs I’ve attended.

11.3 BASICS

8. Flight Facilities & MSO – Sidney Myer – 17 October – This was a special and unique event, with the MSO breathing new life into the electronic numbers. Katie Noonan’s soaring vocals and Reggie Watts’ hilarious cameo were my highlights.

11.5 FLIGHT

9. Mumford & Sons + Future Islands – Sidney Myer – 12 November – Future Islands redefine rock performance with dancing like this show, while Mumford & Sons brought some of the loudest and most glorious singalongs I’ve heard.

11.2 MUMF

10. Jordie Lane – Toff in Town – 18 April – Jordie continues to develop as a poignant storyteller, through songs and banter. An intimate performance of one of our recent greats.

Top 10 albums

10 Maccabees - Marks to Prove It
10. Maccabees, The – Marks To Prove It

09 The Wombays - Glitterbug
9. Wombats, The – Glitterbug

08 Mark Ronson - Uptown Special
8. Mark Ronson – Uptown Special

07 Father John Misty - I Love You, Honeybear
7. Father John Misty – I Love You, Honeybear

06 Marina and the Diamonds - Froot
6. Marina & The Diamonds – Froot

05 Calexico - Edge of the Sun
5. Calexico – Edge Of The Sun

04 Marlon Williams - Marlon Williams
4. Marlon Williams – Marlon Williams

03 Everything Everything - Get to Heaven
3. Everything Everything – Get To Heaven

02 Florence and the Machine - How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
2. Florence + The Machine – How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful

01 Lianne La Havas - Blood
1. Lianna La Havas – Blood

Advertisements

2015 Annual Quiz

Last year I posted an annual quiz, recapping the events of the year. In 2015, I’ve made one bigger and better!

Below are my 2015 News Q’s, followed by a range of downloads that include more 2015 trivia games, including Faces of 2015 (male and female), news in photos, films, music, headlines (fill the gap) and more.

The full shebang is enclosed in the PowerPoint; however, you will need PowerPoint 2013 for this to work correctly. The video round “iTuned in” is only available in this download.

Answers are provided on the attached answers PDF.

Feel free to download, share, pick and choose, and enjoy!

2015 News Q’s

1. January: What is the name of the French satirical magazine attacked by gunmen who killed 12 people?

2. February: Who won the 2015 Australian Open Men’s Singles Final?

3. March: On March 5, what event related to Ebola occurred in Liberia?

4. March: What was the name given to the natural disaster in Vanuatu, which resulted in 40 deaths?

5. April: What were the names of the two Australians executed in Indonesia for drug smuggling?

6. April: A 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck which capital city?

7. May: What was the most talked about vote in the May Irish constitutional referendums?

8. June: Nine people were shot dead at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in what city?

9. June: What unit of time occurred for the first time in 3 years?

10. Who became the first transgender person to appear on the cover of Vanity Fair?

11. July: What was the name of the spacecraft that completed a historic flyby of the dwarf planet Pluto?

12. August: Which celebrity announced he would be running for President in 2020?

13. August: Customer details were hacked and leaked relating to what website?

14. September: The President of the United States nominates Eric Fanning as the first what (secretary of the army)?

15. September: Malcolm Turnbull was sworn in as Prime Minister on 15 September. What number Australian prime minister is he?

16. September: Who won the 2015 AFL Brownlow Medal?

17. October: What is the name of the civilian NSW Police Force worker shot dead outside Police Headquarters in Parramatta?

18. November: A nightclub fire that killed 32 people and resulted in the resignation of Prime Minister Victor Ponta occurred in what country?

19. December: What significant international conference took place in Paris and what was the conference objective?

Downloads

PowerPoint (use the command buttons within the presentation to move around, select answers, return to “Rounds” page, etc. – no need to go slide-by-slide): 03 2015 annual quiz – final

PDF questions: 04.1 2015 annual quiz – questions

PDF picture rounds: 04.2 2015 annual quiz – picture rounds

All answers: 04.4 2015 annual quiz – answers

Giving us a run for our money. Coffee in New York and Chicago

The US has a reputation for bad coffee, and for good reason: namely, Starbucks. These things are everywhere – every other street, train station, department stores, you name it – and while their marketing techniques are amusing (deliberately misspelling names in as ridiculous a way as possible to be photographed for social media), their coffee is far from humorous.

But Starbucks simply have the exposure (and the occasional uncomfortably placed DJ – yes); they don’t control coffee. While location convenience and free wifi are going to win over a majority, there are choices for a good caffeine fix all over the place, from the Melbourne knock-offs to the New York originals.

Here are a few places that won me over in New York City and Chicago, beginning with, hands down, the best coffee I had in NYC:

New York

The Jolly Goat Café – 515 W 47th St, New York

This is a tiny bar with the friendliest staff and the finest cappuccino around!

Jolly Goat

Little Collins – 667 Lexington Ave, New York

Melbourne all over, amazing espresso and drip coffee and tasty brunch snacks, too.

Bluebird Coffee Shop – 72 E 1st St, New York

Another tiny place in an unassuming location. This was taken from a list of Aussie knock-offs, too.

Two Hands – 164 Mott St, New York

Completing a trifecta of Aussie cafes, this Little Italy location offers more space than the others, cool surroundings and a very decent cup.

Bluebottle – Rockefeller Center, 1 Rockefeller Plaza, New York

This is a chain that delivers awesome espresso. Conveniently, they have a spot hidden away at the bottom of the Rockerfeller were you otherwise struggle to find anthing half decent. They also popped up in kiosk form on the Highline.

Champion Coffee – 52 Gansevoort St, New York

It’s in the name. A sweet as coffee spot in a hipster paradise “food court” – get your caffeine fix at the trendy end of the Highline.

Two Little Red Hens – 1652 2nd Ave, New York

In truth this one made the list because the cupcakes are incredible (peanut butter & chocolate mud = heart attach heaven). The coffee was pretty good, too.

PB Cupcake

Black Brick – 300 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn

The Brooklyn location is pretty stellar – the cold brew is fantastic.

Toby’s Estate Coffee – 125 N 6th St, Brooklyn

An Aussie company, I didn’t really like how Mac(Book)Cafe the space was, but the coffee was tops.

Chicago

Intelligentsia – Heritage At Millennium Park, 53 E Randolph St, Chicago

A Chicago chain that was always super busy and for good reason.

Buzz Killer Espresso – 1644 N Damen Ave, Chicago

Up in Bucktown where everything’s cool anyway, may as well have a prime coffee spot to go to.

Buzz

King Café – 900 North Michigan Shops, 900 N Michigan Ave, Chicago

Unassuming in a shopping centre, this place gives high hope to a commercial district with little great coffee that easily visible.

What’s eating? New York & Chicago

Eating in New York City is one of the easiest things to do, with the choice of pretty much any cuisine you can think of. If you’re stuck, or want to easily separate the good from the bad, the internet can enlighten you (or overwhelm you, although you’re probably feeling that way already). Yelp is one such online tool that works in your favour in the big US cities, because Americans leave a lot of reviews on it. It’s great because you can filter quite finitely and still produce a great list of choices, you can trust its ratings (“4.5/5 from 900 reviews” – yeah, I’d say that’s going to be pretty telling), and the negative reviews are so often hilarious.

Below is a list of locations we ate at and immensely enjoyed in New York and Chicago. I’ve put them alphabetically because I’m not good at picking favourites. You can read my little review if you want, or just trust me and take the address…

New York

$$ Brooklyn Bowl – 61 Wythe Ave, Brooklyn

An odd one to start with given it’s a bowling alley, but on a recommendation we headed here for some wings and were not disappointed. If anything, it’s a really cool environment to get some grub, with amazing tunes playing and the opportunity to bowl with your dinner. They also had a really solid gig guide, so there’s way too many reasons to visit.

$$ DuMont Burger – 314 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn

Upon enquiry, we learnt that a DuMac & Cheese is, indeed, a complete burger topped with mac & cheese… Only in America. This place has good reviews because it has excellent burgers. Just don’t forget to add cheese… Or mac & cheese.

$ Ganservoort Market – 52 Gansevoort St, New York

This is a market food court a minute’s walk from the end of the Highline. It’s a haven for hipsters and serves up some amazing options. Be ready to wait for a seat if you’re visiting in prime lunch hours, though – this was place was very popular.

$ Hallo Berlin Push Cart – 54th Street & 5th Ave (Mon – Fri  12:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m)

Best. Food. Cart. This guy has been serving German fair in midtown for years and years and years. And it is SO good! There are a great range of German snags to choose from, along with the expected toppings that all come together so well. He’ll bundle it all up for you and you can walk 5 minutes up 5th to Central Park to chow down.

Berlin

$ Harlem Shake – 100 W 124th St, New York

This is easy burger fair in Harlem, with a cool diner feel and great tunes. Hard to believe all the signatures of the wall.

$ Leo’s Bagels – 3 Hanover Square # 6, New York

Simply very nice bagels and a quick and easy option if you’re stuck downtown.

$$ Luke’s Lobster – 93 E 7th St, New York

Lobster aint cheap, but it sure is tasty. A single roll snack or a full variety feast, Luke’s keeps the menu very straightforward. The lobster and crab rolls are so yum!

LukesLob

$ Pizza Boss – 1469 2nd Ave, New York

This unassuming pizza shop is a total surprise. It’s as straightforward as most of the others, but the pizza is fresh, crispy and not oily! Lots of variety. Listening to the guy explain what a Hawaiian is and why it is so was pretty funny, too.

$ Soba- ya – 229 E 9th St, New York

This place does soba noodles so well there’s no need to serve anything else. Cold, hot and DIY options are available though, so there’s plenty of variety still. Make sure you grab a seat at the bar and watch a pretty stellar production line.

$ Taïm – 45 Spring St, New York

One of two Taïm locations in New York, this was super easy, fresh and fast falafel and vegetarian food. They make three types of falafel and serve in a variety of plates and sandwiches.

$ Taqueria Tehuitzingo – 578 Ninth Ave, New York

This is one quick, cheap, fresh and tasty option with a large range of meats that you should keep up your sleeve, especially if heading to the Theatre District where there is otherwise so much rubbish to be had. A pair of tacos for a few bucks and you’re satisfied, another pair and you’re stuffed.

$$ Tavola – 488 Ninth Ave, New York

On the edge of Hell’s Kitchen, this pizzeria is very popular and very good. The inside has a real warmth about it, with an Italian grocer setup and ceiling fans that are all connected to one belt (it’s cooler to see, I promise). The pizza was great, and you can expect a relaxed dine-in experience, not fast and furious.

$ Zabar’s – 2245 Broadway, New York

Deli business is serious in New York and this place is the real deal. We tried some pretty smashing toasties and a great Danish, but everything here looked gooood – bagels, soup, muffins, all sorts of sweets. It’s another seriously busy spot so be patient or get your grub to go.

Chicago

$ Antique Taco – 1360 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago

Cheap, but not cheap for tacos. In saying that, the mixes they’ve come up with are awesome! You’ll be lining up at the door for a while (don’t try and sneak a seat – they’ll catch you), but it’s worth it!

AntiqueTaco

$ Brobagel – 1931 W N Ave, Chicago

I walked in here because they had a sign saying they’d won an award for their garlic bagel with sriracha cream cheese. I went back several times. The bagels are brilliant and their sandwich creations provide a clever and very filling lunch.

$ Dough Bros Pizzeria & Sub Shop – 400 N State St, Chicago

Went in here for a sub and got two meals in one. Excellent meat with crispy eggplant – was a top lunch. Seriously though, you may want to consider sharing.

$$ Piece Brewery & Pizzeria – 1927 W North Ave, Chicago

A little pricier for pizza, but you’ll have enough for lunch the next day. This is a sports bar, brewery and pizzeria all-in-one, with a nice selection of house made beers and a make-your-own pizza menu. They come out on massive trays because they are massive.

$$ Pizzeria Due – 619 N Wabash Ave, Chicago

Why go to Uno when there’s no line at Due? It was still full, though. And the deep dish was great – super saucy on the inside and crunchy on the outside. Who cares if everyone comes here, it’s well worth it.

DeepDish

$ Portillo’s – 100 W Ontario St, Chicago

Speaking of everyone going to a place, when you enter Portillo’s at lunch time you don’t so much joint a line as you do get consumed in a wave. Shuffle forward, place an order, then shuffle to your left. The production line of food prep is worth it alone, although the hot dogs are pretty flash, too! On top of that, I had the opportunity to order a chocolate cake shake… I wouldn’t exactly recommend that last bit.

Portillos