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What You Missed at the ACMs

April 21, 2015

Sunday night, April 19th, marked the 50th annual Academy of Country Music Awards, and it was nothing short of spectacular. Historically held in California (and later in Las Vegas), the ACM Awards relocated to AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas this time around, hosted by the infamous country music duo, "Bluke." Blake Shelton and Luke Bryan took the stage of the record-breaking affair, setting a new Guinness World Record for the most attended live awards show ever, clocking in at 70,252 attendees. Not only was there an abundance of hit country performances by artists such as Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, and Kenny Chesney, but a number of guest appearances from other music realms as well. Christina Aguilera joined Rascal Flatts in singing their hit, "Riot," and Nick Jonas collaborated a mash-up of his popular songs "Jealous" and "Chains" along to "Nothin’ Like You" with country duo Dan + Shay. If you weren't able to see the awards show live on Sunday, here's is a recap of the 2015 winners:

Sufjan Stevens

This past Sunday, I finally let myself spend some money on something other than groceries and bills and bought a Sufjan Stevens ticket. The show opened with Cold Specks, stage name for Ladan Hussein (also known as Al Spx), an up-and-coming Somali-Canadian singer with a full-bodied voice that resounded beautifully in Hartford’s Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts. The name is a reference to James Joyce's Ulysses – "Born all in the dark wormy earth, cold specks of fire, evil, lights shining in the darkness" – which earned her some cool points, though at times she relied too heavily on her jazzy vibrato.

Cold Specks performed soulful hits from 2012’s I Predict a Graceful Expulsion and 2014’s Neuroplasticity, grooving in a manner not unlike St. Vincent before she got weird. After her backing band left the stage, Cold Specks ended the set with a reworking of her most successful song, "Holland" – an a cappella version called "We Are Many (Revisited)." This powerful reaction to the Ferguson shooting was chilling, and the final line, “Hands up. Don’t shoot. I can’t breathe,” rang out into silence. And then applause.

After a brief intermission, Sufjan sat down at the piano in his trademark trucker hat and a shirt that read HUSTLER and opened with "Redford (For Yia-Yia & Pappou)." A combination of home movies and sea landscapes were projected behind him. Like all good hipsters, Sufjan sings of meadowlarks and marijuana, but unlike most, his songs have weight. The set list promoted his new album, Carrie & Lowell, which was written in response to his mother’s death, giving the audience a personal glimpse into his complicated grief.


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This past weekend marked the beginning of the music festival season. Jack White was the highlight performance of Coachella, but Alabama Shakes, Royal Blood, Vance Joy, and Circa Survive gave him a run for his money. Hipsters rejoiced in the quirky side attractions like silent discos and weird snacks, and now everyone is yearning for summer. Forget spring. Everything is still dead. Then again it always is in southern California (we're praying that the rain gods move Connecticut's precipitation your way, SoCal).


Which Pop Diva Are You?

April 7, 2015

Have you always felt that you have one or two really great pop albums in you? Or are you just simply fabulous? Find out now which pop star you most closely resemble!

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Van Halen’s first televised performance ever with singer David Lee Roth aired last week on Jimmy Kimmel Live in support of their upcoming tour, and despite the plethora of high kicks Roth is overly fond of, the front man still looks a bit rusty as he needed 14 stitches after only the first take. Manically twirling his mic stand during "Panama," Roth proceeded to hit himself square in the nose, and Nelly-style, had to perform with a large bandage on his face for the rest of the taping.


Easter: What's up with the Rabbits and Eggs?

April 3, 2015

Today marks the start of Easter Weekend, when Christians around the globe celebrate Jesus Christ being nailed to a cross and coming back to life three days later. Millions of Christians will pay their respects by attending Catholic masses and enjoying hearty meals.

The connection between Eastern and the Easter Bunny is a mistery to both young and old alikeThe connection between Easter and the Easter Bunny is a mystery to both young and old alike

Easter celebrations vary across the globe. In Bermuda they fly kites on Easter, in the United Kingdom they bake and eat Hot Cross buns to recognized the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, and in Germany they celebrate by forbidding people from dancing. As varied as the celebrations are, in most Western cultures the celebration of Easter normally does have two constants, the Easter Bunny and painting eggs in various pastel colors and the subsequent hiding of said eggs.

To outsiders, and indeed many devout Christians, the relationship between the Crucifixion and Resurrection and the Easter Bunny and eggs seems a little weird, but believe me there indeed a very real connection between the two. At Easter Sunday dinners across the country, "where did the Easter bunny originate" and the "origin of Easter eggs" are discussed ad nauseam. So if you want to dominate the talk this Sunday, be sure to continue reading Live Toast's meaning of Easter, the origin of the Easter Bunny, and why we paint and hide eggs on Easter.



April Team Picks

April 1, 2015
Team Picks

Happy April! If you aren't too busy actin' a fool today, start planning your month now because there's lots of awesome events happening, and you don't want to miss out. If you're having trouble deciding, check out the TL team's recommendations below:

NHL Playoffs

NHL Playoffs

"After a wild season, the hunt for the Stanley Cup is on, and there's nothing in the world that compares to playoff hockey! Be there to see the most exciting sports action of the year because you never know what is going to happen during an NHL playoff game." -- Andres

Modest Mouse

Modest Mouse

"Following an eight-year hiatus, Modest Mouse has finally released a new album – Strangers to Ourselves. The indie rockers are playing intimate venues across the country over the next few months, with shows at unique places like Cornell University and music festivals like Sasquatch! There are limited U.S. dates on sale, so check out the Modest Mouse schedule to see when they’ll be floating on into your city because it may be another few years before they perform again." -- Brittany


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The Rolling Stones just announced their highly anticipated 2015 "Zip Code" Tour! Your favorite British rockers will kick off their concert circuit at San Diego's Petco Park on May 24. Can't wait 'til then? Take this quiz to test how much you really know about the Stones, and buy your Rolling Stones tickets fast before they're sold out!

For those of you who actually go out on Saturday nights instead of sitting in alone, watching TV with your arm elbow-deep in a bag of Doritos, catch up on the latest SNL spoof that's trending across the country. Everyone loves a playful jab at Disney now and again. Former WWE-star Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson makes a beautiful Bambi, don't you think?


According to the 2015 calendar, it's officially Spring, but according to the New England weather, Mother Nature is in no rush to dismiss the freezing cold temps and bring in the warm, radiant sunshine. The newly extended hours of sunlight has me pumped for t-shirt and flip-flop weather -- sunny days to roll down the windows and drive around scenic back roads blasting country music from the radio. One of my personal favorite artists to play is Luke Bryan, because not only is he talented, but he is sweet, goofy, and has a killer smile. Here are some of my top Luke Bryan picks that you’ll most likely catch me singing at the top of my lungs, and that I can’t wait to hear him sing live this summer!

1. "Country Man"
I'll Stay Me (2007)

In March of 2008, “Country Man” was Luke Bryan’s 3rd single released from his debut album, I’ll Stay Me. In this very upbeat and catchy song, Bryan humorously describes the attributes of a “country” man, indicating that they have more significant qualities than that of a city boy. The video for the song is fun and gives fans a glimpse of Luke Bryan’s goofy, laid-back personality and his life on the road as a musician.