I Drive a Prius and Listen to Rap… So?

Author: Nicole Chininis, Real Life Stories

Yes, I own a Prius.

When I purchased my car, I was driving 50-plus miles to get to work every day, and another 50 on the way back. It made sense for me to get a car that didn’t drown me in gas money. It’s light blue and I named her Flo. Flo is cool most of the time, but when you put the GPS on she sends you on a wild goose chase because her system hasn’t been updated since 2008. Waze FTW.

I also really, really, really love hip-hop and rap music. Drake is my booooooy. Last summer, when One Dance was massive, I remember driving with my windows down and BLASTING the song so loudly that my car was practically shaking. I pulled up to a stop sign and looked to my right. Two people were standing on the corner just staring at me. I got embarrassed because I realized why they were staring: I was a white girl driving a Prius, blasting my music like I was driving anything BUT a Prius. I shouldn’t have cared because, WHO CARES, but I turned down my music and went on my way.

On any given day, you might find me listening to rap, Broadway, folk, reggaeton, salsa, or flamenco, so I can’t tell you why I got so embarrassed. My car does not define me, but sometimes I feel like it puts me in a specific category.

I don’t drive like a grandma and I listen to whatever I want to. If I feel in the mood to listen to Chance the Rapper or Hamilton, then fine. But so many times I hear people talk badly about Priuses, more specifically the people who drive them. If my car doesn’t define me, why do I sometimes feel embarrassed by it?

I don’t fit in a box at all. I try to appreciate things for what they are.

Yet, somehow we all find ourselves being put into categories because of the clothes we wear, the music we listen to, the cars we drive, the color of our skin. We try not to let things bother us, but they do. Sometimes it’s for things we can’t change and sometimes it’s for things we can.

Honestly, why should we want to change things just to appease other people? Life gets BORING that way. I need to learn that my likes are my likes, and I shouldn’t be defined by one of them. No offense, but I don’t really want to be like you. I want to be me and do things that make me happy.

It’s not easy. Society tells us how we should act and what we should like, and we often fall for it. I’m not saying this is bad, either, but we need to remind ourselves that just because someone tells us something is cool, it doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the case. My Prius is really cool, guys. Trust me.

So next time you see a light blue Prius driving down the street blasting Jay-Z’s new 4:44 album, it’s probably me and Flo. Feel free to wave, but I probably won’t hear you because my music will be too loud.

Bandits On The Run Are a Truly Special Band

Author: Danny Abriano, Entertainment

It’s not country. It’s not rock. It’s not pop. It’s not soul. It’s an awesome combination of all four genres, plus touches from a bunch more. And it’s what makes Bandits On The Run so special.

Why should millennials listen to them? Well…

The trio, which performs as a quintet often in order to pack more punch, started out by playing in subway stations in New York City — often in Brooklyn. And after they started winning the hearts of New Yorkers with their unique sound, they launched a Kickstarter to fund their debut LP, which just came out.

The LP, The Criminal Record, has eight tracks, of which the moods and styles run the gamut. And the lyrics on each are both catchy and witty.

The Bandits — Roy Dodger, Clarissa, and Bonanza Jellyfish (their stage names) — bring a kind of controlled, frantic energy (if such thing exists) to their songs. And while their energy is apparent when listening to their LP, seeing them live brings it up several notches.

When you see the Bandits live, they transform you with their angle and stage presence. Each of their shows is a ‘musical stickup,’ complete with cowboy narratives, bandanas, and little skits that pop up throughout. While the music is more than enough to thrill, the other elements sprinkled throughout their show make things even better.

Odds are that you’ve never heard of Bandits On The Run, which means you’ve never heard any of their songs. That should change. And when it does, I guarantee you’ll be hooked.

Roy Dodger plays guitar, often acoustic, while Bonanza Jellyfish plays the cello and Clarissa displays her talents by using a number of different percussion instruments. As noted above, the band is often filled out with a bassist and drummer.

As far as the vocals go, three-part harmonies are a big part of the Bandits’ sound, and each member of the group has songs where they’re featured as the lead vocalist.

The Bandits ordinarily tour in and around the five boroughs of New York City, but they venture to other spots often. For a full list of their upcoming shows, head here.

The group is an example of perseverance and hard work paying off.

A taste of Banditry as the group plays Loser, from The Criminal Record

Why the Beatles Are Still Relevant to Millennials

Author: Danny Abriano, Entertainment

If you turn on Top 40 radio today, you’ll hear lots of different genres. One that isn’t heard much? Rock or Rock and Roll, whichever derivative you want to call it.

Part of that is because of how much music has evolved and how many different genres and sub-genres there are now. And part of it is because there simply aren’t any transcendent rock bands out there right now.

There are some good and even great acts, including The Black Keys and Arcade Fire. There are those who are still touring but removed from their prime, such as U2. And many who are still touring and far removed from their prime, such as Tom Petty, Neil Young and Bob Dylan.

In my opinion, though, there are no acts out there right now in their prime that actually transcend. None who make me think I’ll regret it for the rest of my life if I don’t see them.

Now, why are the Beatles and other classic rock bands still relevant to millennials?

When it comes to the Beatles, lots of things converged to create a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon.

For starters, they were the first band that actually wrote their own songs. The first popular band that brought true ferocity to the stage. The first band that evolved in a way where their first album is so different than their fifth that it’s nearly impossible to understand their brilliance.

The Beatles also gained popularity in the U.S. and around the rest of the world shortly after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, giving American youth something to turn to.

Aside from their immense musical talent, though, the Beatles were political. They were opinionated. And sometimes purposefully and sometimes not, they gave young people a reason to feel free. A reason to rebel. A reason to experiment. A reason to hope.

And the above things are eternal and what transcends, making it easy to understand why millennials still identify with the Beatles and why many millennials are more hardcore fans than their parents were.

Other classic rock bands that transcend and are loved by many millennials include Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd, but the Beatles stand head and shoulders above them.

I work for a Beatles festival, and while fans of all ages attend, it seems some of the most ardent and true fans are millennials.

Why is that?

With youth comes hope, and with the Beatles — who disbanded in 1970 when none of them were older than 30 — there is eternal youth.

Fest Logo

I Attended The Fest For Beatles Fans, and Here’s Why You Should Too

Author: Mary Grace Donaldson, Entertainment

I had the pleasure of attending The Fest For Beatles Fans on March 4th in Jersey City. And while we’ve discussed it multiple times — back when the Chicago Fest was happening in August 2016, when we talked about bands with the influence of the Beatles, or when we previewed the acts who played last weekend — I didn’t have the full picture.

When I arrived at the Hyatt Regency Jersey City on the second day of the New York Metro Fest — with my parents in tow — I walked into an atmosphere that can only be described as fun and welcoming. We only had a few hours to see everything that I wanted to see at The Fest, but the staff was exceptionally accommodating, not to mention enthusiastic, about why we were there and what we could see.


In the midst of a few art galleries and even a room where I added to a massive Beatles-themed collage, people of all ages filled the hallways. While those in my parents’ age group were expected (as they remember when the Beatles played Shea Stadium), I was amazed to see millennials, Gen Xers, teenagers and even little kids sporting Beatles t-shirts, Beatles jackets and even Sgt. Peppers album cover costumes.

The Fest even drew notables — including Klaus Voormann, who designed album cover art for the Beatles and Ken Dashow of New York radio station Q-104.3, just to name a few.

I listened to the Beatles a lot as a child — my dad was fast to play their albums as well as radio stations that specialized in Beatles blocks. At the time, I pretended to hate it — but secretly loved it. I was brought right back to those days while walking around The Fest, and was moved by how the Beatles brought so many generations together.

The highlights of the day, however, had to be the performances I watched both on the main stage and the smaller — but no less notable — Apple Jam Stage. I was most moved by my dad while we watched Birds of Paradox on the main stage as he knew every word to every song played, and I’ll admit — my highly sensitive side got the better of me as they played Imagine.

After we visited the massive Beatles marketplace (and were pleased with our many purchases), it was time to leave — but I’m pretty sure none of us wanted to.


So, what makes The Fest so special? The easy answers are live music, great loot, good people and inspiring exhibits, which are all true answers. But it’s more than all that. The Fest showed me that in the midst of troubling times — both personally, and in our current political landscape — it’s possible to still believe in the values that the Beatles made paramount to their music, including peace for all. Idealism lives on. Music speaks to it. People from all walks of life, of all ages, can still come together for a common celebration.

Millennials, if you have an opportunity to attend The Fest, either in Jersey City or in Chicago, it’s worth your visit. If you’re not familiar with all of the Beatles’ music, I promise you, you’re not “too young” to get it. And regardless of your Beatles fan status, the message is too important to miss. We are the generation of change — be a part of this movement.


5 of the Best Grammy Performances Ever

Author: Danny Abriano, Entertainment

Before the 2017 Grammys, we decided it was time to look back at some of the best performances ever…

Simon and Garfunkel: Sound of Silence, 2014
This one is special not only because of the song but because of the rarity of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel performing together at this point. Since breaking up in the ’70s, they had gotten back together for the enormous concert in Central Park in the early-’80s. This one was part of a tour that saw the two men reunited. And hearing this song performed so incredibly 36 years after it came out was truly amazing.

Paul McCartney and Nirvana: Cut Me Some Slack, 2008
Paul McCartney electrified the stage with the surviving members of Nirvana. And in his mid-60s, Paul stood firm in front of Dave Grohl, who went absolutely ballistic on the drum kit as Paul reached vocal heights that were reminiscent of his screeching amazingness on 1968’s ‘Helter Skelter.’

Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr reunite, 2014
Paul and Ringo reunited at the Grammys in 2014 to recognize the 50th anniversary of the arrival of the Beatles in America. And of course, one of the songs the played was With A Little Help From My Friends. Seeing one Beatle perform is incredible, but seeing two at the same time? Life-changing.

Prince and the Revolution, 1985
Prince did his thing at the 1985 Grammys, tearing the stage apart as only he could. This was just a precursor to the ridiculous stage presence he kept displaying as his career continued.

Michael Jackson: The Way You Make Me Feel and Man In The Mirror, 1988
MJ. In his prime. Singing two of the most iconic songs ever and dancing as only he could. It doesn’t get better than this.