Category Archives: reviews

Twenty One Pilots – An Open Letter

Two years after Teengirl dragged me along to a Twenty One Pilots gig in a tiny Brit venue we’re finally getting to see them again, this time in the much larger Brixton Academy.

In honour of going to see our family’s favourite band on Wednesday here’s my original blog (complete with my gig pix) I posted when Twenty One Pilots first blew me away:

Teengirl dragged me to a gig where she described the band as “a screamo, ukulele playing, rapping, emo, piano playing, dance band” I thought this is a band that needs to pick a genre!

And so it was with no expectations I went along to see this gig in a tiny nightclub in Brighton filled with teenage girls and the odd very drunk thirty-something man – a few of whom got carried out of the audience by the bouncers while the teenagers all behaved themselves!

After my experience standing on the balcony of The Haunt looking down on the moving sea of bouncing girls I was moved to write an open letter to the two men of Twenty One Pilots.

Here it is:

Dear Tyler and Josh

As a mum in my early 40s with a life full of kids I don’t give over any of my time to listening to new music and new bands.  So I had never heard of you and despite teengirl trying desperately to get me to listen to you and repeatedly telling me I’d love you, I am saddened to say I resisted and so you were entirely new to me when I saw you on stage in your balaclava masks that Monday night.

To be honest with you I wasn’t looking forward to seeing a band who rap.  So I thank you from the bottom of my heart for not being stereotypical misogynistic, show off swag fuckery, violence inciting rappers.

I also appreciate that you don’t sing meaningless songs of great love or lost love or boppy pop shit with lyrics that make no sense or are overly sexually explicit for the age group listening to them.

With fame comes great responsibility: your songs could just be something to dance to or they could be the one thing that allows our teenagers to feel heard, listened to and understood.  I am grateful to you for taking that responsibility seriously by writing poems (and I do believe them to be poetry) that can change a teenager’s intention, open their heads and their hearts.  Too many in the public eye don’t take their responsibility seriously and far too many abuse the power given to them by the public (yes Mr Politician I am talking about you).

Tyler and Josh from Twenty One Pilots in Brighton

Twenty One Pilots

All we all want is to be heard and to be acknowledged, be that as adults, toddlers or teenagers and I thank you for writing lyrics and music that does just that.

I thank you for starting the conversation with our teenagers about self-harm and suicide, for opening your ears and your eyes so you can open theirs and mine.

Thank you for acknowledging that these very real and very strong emotions exist in their hearts and take over their brains.  As a mum, I appreciate your fear for our teenagers and I am grateful to you for telling them you understand.

Because sometimes just the understanding from an adult is all it can take to save a young person from the pit of hell.  Far too often we as parents and responsible adults push their fears to the side, don’t allow them to express them, tell them they’re not real, not to dwell on them, to just get over them.

Tyler from Twenty One Pilots sings out his emotions

Tyler putting his pain out there for all to see

As a parent I wonder if we do this because we are afraid that if we poke the monster, pull back the layers of this raw anguish we’ll make it worse for them?  And so they never get given the tools to deal with the pain of simply growing up in a society that says it’s not ok to feel when all they can do is feel as they look inside only to find themselves wanting.

And then when our children hurt themselves intentionally we rail against the world, god, the internet searching for someone to blame instead of visiting some introspection into our lives.

Thank you for writing raw, honest and authentic lyrics and music that really, truly speaks to teenagers: lyrics that let them know its ok to be different, to be curious, to wonder what if, to question the status quo, to ask how it might be changed for the better.

Teenagedom is the beginning of all things self: an egocentric rollercoaster of self-awareness, independence and boundary pushing.  Being a teenager means inspecting yourself far too often when the self-awareness monster rears his ugly head, feeling alone under the microscope of peers inside the institution we call school.

And so they pull down a mask and become a façade to fit in – something you, Tyler and Josh, obviously understand and are not afraid to admit.

Tyler from Twenty One Pilots at his piano at the Haunt Brighton

Tyler pulls down his mask

I cannot thank you enough for being authentic, honest and real.  You, Tyler, are a poet.  I hear haunting spectres of Sylvia Plath and Stevie Smith in your words.  When I was a teen their words were my saviours: they showed me I wasn’t alone, I wasn’t weird and that to question death and love in the same sentence was absolutely normal.  I take my hat off to you for your intelligent metaphorical rhymes that speak volumes to my daughter and other teenagers.

I love that you put intense, honest and empathetic lyrics to a bouncy happy beat – a beautiful metaphor of teenagerdom.  I feel your pain as I dance along.  And I understand teengirl just that little bit more when she tells me her favourite Twenty One Pilots song – her favourites change with her moods.  Just as I love that you break the music rules, don’t fit into a box and can’t be labelled.

Tyler from Twenty One Pilots standing on his piano at the Haunt Brighton

Bathed in the light

Teengirl gets that you get her.  She bounces to your beats and shouts along to your lyrics in the cool way only a teenager can.  And I know that your words have gone a long way to helping her heal and understand.

Over my many years loving music there have been only a few musicians with whom I have become obsessed, even fewer who have touched me and spoken directly to me.  In that short list you’ll find Janis Joplin, The Doors, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan and BrightEyes.  And now, Twenty One Pilots have joined that list because I am already quite obsessed with your rhythms and your rhymes.

Thank you for respecting the responsibility of fame.  Please don’t let the industry change you.

I can only begin to imagine how proud your mums are of both of you.

With lots of love and thanks,

Mumtoteens

PS What is a Pantaloon?

Twenty One Pilots drummer Josh

Twenty One Pilots - Tyler and Josh

Twenty One Pilots – Tyler and Josh

Tyler from Twenty One Pilots at his piano at the Haunt Brighton

Tyler from Twenty One Pilots at his piano at the Haunt Brighton

Sea of teenagers hands in the air at Twenty One Pilots gig

Sea of teenagers hands in the air at Twenty One Pilots gig

My photographs – all the photographs  featured in this blog belong to me, I took them, they’re mine, so please don’t just lift them. If you want to use them please give me credit (mumtoteens) and a link back to this blog. If you reuse my pix without credit you will be asked to remove them.

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3D Bi-Aural Sound at Cornetto Cinema

Teengirl and I love the unusual and unexpected which was a really good thing when we caught a screening of Cornetto UK’s innovative immersive movie and theatre experience Two Sides.

We’d been given the barest of details so neither of us had any idea what to expect when we turned up at Westfield Stratford last week – FYI it is the biggest and tallest mall I’ve been in outside of America!

And we got the unexpected!

Cornetto UK recently launched their Cupidity short film Two Sides. The movie combines a teen love story with the usual problems teenagers in love have with 3D bi-aural cinema sound. It also manages to seamlessly combine it with immersive theatre to create a ‘truly unique storytelling experience’ that enthralled both Teengirl and I.

cornetto cinema box office - pop up 3D sound cinema with immersive theatre

Our ticket to entry was a Cornetto. I had strawberry and Teengirl had a classic served up Starbucks style in a dual Cornetto holder with our names written on with tiny lovehearts drawn beside them.

Cornetto ‘tickets’ in hand Teengirl and I switched on our headphones, set them to the correct channel and made sure we were wearing them the correct way (blue on the right ear) before taking our seats in the tiny, three-row, intimate cinema.

a cornetto was our ticket to entry

 As the movie began and the small room erupted in laughter as a man in the front row took his headphones off, looked at them and put them back on the right way!

And that’s an important point – the sound coming through the headphones is different, a bit weird and if like me you’ve never heard 3D or bi-aural sound before, slightly unexpected.

Before the movie started I could hear ‘voices’ in my ears and moving between my ears as the sound of people chattering was piped in. When I closed my eyes I felt as though I could ‘see’ where in the room these chattering people were standing.

Once the movie started I heard the male character’s voice in one ear and the female lead in the other and I’m sure I could hear them in different ears at the same time. It was as if the sound was all around me and inside my head. At first I didn’t recognise this was happening, then when I realised it, I paid attention and then forgot about it as I got sucked into the movie that explores ‘the trials and adventures of teen love’.

The movie was described to me as being in 3D sound but I quickly discovered it was more like 4D all round. And that’s all I’m going to tell you.

I really want to tell you more but I can’t because I don’t want to give you any hints as to what happened next. It’s much more effective if it’s a surprise. Believe me your experience will be so much better if you don’t know what’s going to happen and you expect the unexpected.

Now go and see it. Immerse yourself in it, hear it like you’ve never heard anything before, feel it, love it and then tell everybody else to go see it – because you will want to.

The pop-up cinema runs until August 4th at Westfield Stratford and it’s free for everybody.

Two Sides movie with 3D and bi-aural sound combined with immersive theatre

Cornetto UK describes Two Sides as part of a series of short films where four international directors have sourced romantic inspiration from all over the world to ensure each film shares a beautiful and compelling love story.

www.cornetto.com

http://uk.westfield.com/stratfordcity/


Morrisons Mums Bank Holiday Challenge

I’d planned to have family and friends over for a BBQ on the first Monday May bank holiday but unfortunately my builders had other ideas!

Apparently an emergency meant they had to turn up to take down the chimneys on the bank holiday instead of the Tuesday.  So that put the kibosh on the BBQ – cos nobody wants builders dust in their burgers and sausages!

I’d planned to take lots of photographs and maybe a couple of videos at the BBQ of everyone having a great time enjoying the food from Morrison’s but sadly that had to go as well – cos nobody needs to see a picture photobombed by a builders bum!

So instead it was just me and the kids.

But what to cook instead of traditional BBQ fare?  I opted for a meal that appeals to kids, is easy, resembles junk food but actually isn’t and is even tastier than the frozen version.

For our bank holiday dinner I created homemade wholegrain chicken nuggets, sauté baby boiled potatoes and broccoli.

low GI, low sugar dinner - homemade wholegrain chicken nuggets, broccoli and saute baby boiled potatoes bought from Morrisons cos I was a #morrisonsmum

homemade wholegrain chicken nuggets, broccoli and saute baby boiled potatoes bought from Morrisons cos I was a #morrisonsmum

As most of you who read this blog know I’m insulin resistant so I eat a Low GI diet (FYI I’ve lost 3 stone since I started and feel healthier than I have done in years), hence, the wholegrain chicken nuggets.

wholegrain low GI chicken nuggets recipe - how to make healthy chicken nuggets that are low gi and low sugar but still tasty

For breakfast we pushed the boat out and instead of toast or bran flakes we devoured brown wholegrain rolls topped with oats filled to the brim with bacon and topped off with lashings of ketchup.

bacon on wholewheat oat topped rolls with lashings of tomato ketchup - the perfect Bank Holiday breakfast

bacon on wholewheat oat topped rolls with lashings of tomato ketchup – the perfect Bank Holiday breakfast

I’m sure you don’t need a recipe for these, we all know how to cook a roll with bacon.  Mmmmm, these ones were particularly delicious and believe it or not Low GI.

Our weekend’s meals also included a Sunday roast and a Keema Curry with wholegrain basmati rice (if you haven’t tasted this rice do it, it’s delicious as well as low GI).

My snacks consisted of strawberries which were great but not quite as sweet as the Spanish ones I was eating in Cornwall last week, salted popcorn (Morrison’s is good but just like every other supermarket’s own make it just doesn’t match up to Butterkist salted), Ski smooth yoghurts and Belvita biscuits (both of these two were on offer and therefore a bargain for me).

a box of strawberries from Morrisons for just £3 #morrisonsmum

For lunch my cold meat and salad sandwiches included lettuce from the living salad I purchased at Morrisons.

What’s a living salad I hear you cry? Well…It’s a lettuce that’s still growing.   I know…I couldn’t believe it!

You buy the living salad still planted in the soil, sit it on your windowsill, keep it watered and voila it will last for up to ten days.  And when you need some lettuce to put on your sandwich or for your side salad you just cut some off, wash it and use it.

Amazing, just absolutely bloody amazing.  The living salad is THE BEST thing I’ve ever bought from a supermarket EVER!!!  And it cost just 99p.

my windowsill living salad - best purchase from any supermarket EVER

my windowsill living salad – best purchase from any supermarket EVER #morrisonsmum

You might wonder why instead of telling you all about the hell my teenagers are putting me through I’m sharing what we ate over the weekend.

Well it’s because Morrison’s challenged me (and a load of other mums) to find out if their new lower prices were as good as they claimed #morrisonsmums.

I’d love to be able to tell you all that their prices are great and it saved me a fortune, but it was difficult for me to work out cos I buy my meat in bulk from Costco and try to shop quite regularly in my village but I was reasonably impressed by their prices and I’ve included a price per portion breakdown for the chicken nuggets and the bacon butties below.

I do have one complaint about Morrisons supermarkets – and I mean every single one I’ve ever been in – have no rhyme or reason to their layout.  Most supermarkets adhere to the same sort of layouts so you know roughly where to find the food on your shopping list.  But Morrisons don’t seem to follow this rough rule, they make their own rules, they walk to the beat of their drum.

Normally I’d have all respect for that but when you’re searching the aisles desperately trying to find the food you need as a 4 year old constantly asks you questions, their refusal to play by the same rules as everyone else can be rage inducing.  I ended up having to bribe Babyboy with some cars just so he would stop talking long enough for me to search out the items on my long and apparently never ending shopping list.

So kudos to Morrisons for lowering prices at a time when families are really struggling financially, as a cash strapped mum I appreciate it.  But please sort out the layout of your supermarkets so I don’t have to search and search and search.

  • CHICKEN NUGGETS, POTATOES & BROCOLLI COST PER PORTION (I made enough for 4 and froze a portion of nuggets) – £2.04
  • BACON BUTTIES COST PER PORTION – £1.09

 

affordable, tasty fruit at great prices is what I want as a mum #morrisonsmum


Twenty One Pilots – An Open Letter

Teengirl dragged me to a gig where she described the band as “a screamo, ukulele playing, rapping, emo, piano playing, dance band” I thought this is a band that needs to pick a genre!

And so it was with no expectations I went along to see this gig in a tiny nightclub in Brighton filled with teenage girls and the odd very drunk thirty-something man – a few of whom got carried out of the audience by the bouncers while the teenagers all behaved themselves!

After my experience standing on the balcony of The Haunt looking down on the moving sea of bouncing girls I was moved to write an open letter to the two men of Twenty One Pilots.

Here it is:

Dear Tyler and Josh

As a mum in my early 40s with a life full of kids I don’t give over any of my time to listening to new music and new bands.  So I had never heard of you and despite teengirl trying desperately to get me to listen to you and repeatedly telling me I’d love you, I am saddened to say I resisted and so you were entirely new to me when I saw you on stage in your balaclava masks that Monday night.

To be honest with you I wasn’t looking forward to seeing a band who rap.  So I thank you from the bottom of my heart for not being stereotypical misogynistic, show off swag fuckery, violence inciting rappers.

I also appreciate that you don’t sing meaningless songs of great love or lost love or boppy pop shit with lyrics that make no sense or are overly sexually explicit for the age group listening to them.

With fame comes great responsibility: your songs could just be something to dance to or they could be the one thing that allows our teenagers to feel heard, listened to and understood.  I am grateful to you for taking that responsibility seriously by writing poems (and I do believe them to be poetry) that can change a teenager’s intention, open their heads and their hearts.  Too many in the public eye don’t take their responsibility seriously and far too many abuse the power given to them by the public (yes Mr Politician I am talking about you).

Tyler and Josh from Twenty One Pilots in Brighton

Twenty One Pilots

All we all want is to be heard and to be acknowledged, be that as adults, toddlers or teenagers and I thank you for writing lyrics and music that does just that.

I thank you for starting the conversation with our teenagers about self-harm and suicide, for opening your ears and your eyes so you can open theirs and mine.

Thank you for acknowledging that these very real and very strong emotions exist in their hearts and take over their brains.  As a mum, I appreciate your fear for our teenagers and I am grateful to you for telling them you understand.

Because sometimes just the understanding from an adult is all it can take to save a young person from the pit of hell.  Far too often we as parents and responsible adults push their fears to the side, don’t allow them to express them, tell them they’re not real, not to dwell on them, to just get over them.

Tyler from Twenty One Pilots sings out his emotions

Tyler putting his pain out there for all to see

As a parent I wonder if we do this because we are afraid that if we poke the monster, pull back the layers of this raw anguish we’ll make it worse for them?  And so they never get given the tools to deal with the pain of simply growing up in a society that says it’s not ok to feel when all they can do is feel as they look inside only to find themselves wanting.

And then when our children hurt themselves intentionally we rail against the world, god, the internet searching for someone to blame instead of visiting some introspection into our lives.

Thank you for writing raw, honest and authentic lyrics and music that really, truly speaks to teenagers: lyrics that let them know its ok to be different, to be curious, to wonder what if, to question the status quo, to ask how it might be changed for the better.

Teenagedom is the beginning of all things self: an egocentric rollercoaster of self-awareness, independence and pushing the boundaries.  And being a teenager means inspecting yourself far too often when the self-awareness monster rears his ugly head, feeling alone under the microscope of peers inside the institution we call school.

And so they pull down a mask and become a façade to fit in – something you, Tyler and Josh, obviously understand and are not afraid to admit.

Tyler from Twenty One Pilots at his piano at the Haunt Brighton

Tyler pulls down his mask

I cannot thank you enough for being authentic, honest and real.  You, Tyler, are a poet.  I hear haunting spectres of Sylvia Plath and Stevie Smith in your words.  When I was a teen their words were my saviours: they showed me I wasn’t alone, I wasn’t weird and that to question death and love in the same sentence was absolutely normal.  I take my hat off to you for your intelligent metaphorical rhymes that speak volumes to my daughter and other teenagers.

I love that you put intense, honest and empathetic lyrics to a bouncy happy beat – a beautiful metaphor of teenagerdom.  I feel your pain as I dance along.  And I understand teengirl just that little bit more when she tells me her favourite Twenty One Pilots song – her favourites change with her moods.  Just as I love that you break the music rules, don’t fit into a box and can’t be labelled.

Tyler from Twenty One Pilots standing on his piano at the Haunt Brighton

Bathed in the light

Teengirl gets that you get her.  She bounces to your beats and shouts along to your lyrics in thecool way only a teenager can.  And I know that your words have gone a long way to helping her heal and understand.

Over my many years loving music there have been only a few musicians with whom I have become obsessed, even fewer who have touched me and spoken directly to me.  In that short list you’ll find Janis Joplin, The Doors, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan and BrightEyes.  And now, Twenty One Pilots have joined that list because I am already quite obsessed with your rhythms and your rhymes.

Thank you for respecting the responsibility of fame.  Please don’t let the industry change you.

I can only begin to imagine how proud your mums are of both of you.

With lots of love and thanks,

Mumtoteens

PS What is a Pantaloon?

Twenty One Pilots drummer Josh

Twenty One Pilots - Tyler and Josh

Twenty One Pilots – Tyler and Josh

Tyler from Twenty One Pilots at his piano at the Haunt Brighton

Tyler from Twenty One Pilots at his piano at the Haunt Brighton

Sea of teenagers hands in the air at Twenty One Pilots gig

Sea of teenagers hands in the air at Twenty One Pilots gig


Billie Joe Armstrong Nearly Killed me with His T-Shirt Gun

I know that in admitting this I am in danger of sounding incredibly old, but I fear the mocking less than I am afeard of the t-shirt gun that almost took my not so young life.

The sun shone down upon Emirates Stadium that June 1st in 2013, we soaked up the last of it as we sang along to Bohemian Rhapsody blasted from the sound system.

As the final notes of Mercury’s most memorable tune washed away into the early evening sun a giant Drunk Bunny bounded onto the stage from behind a skull and crossbones.

drunken bunny at Green Day gig Emirates Stadium London

Green Day’s drunken bunny

Hands rose up and forward to Drunk Bunny, cheers were offered up to him as he bounced about the stage.  And as the sun began to slide behind the stadium perimeter it really began to heat up inside.

Almost as bouncy as the Bunny Billie Joe Armstrong looked none the worse for his stint in rehab and he took on that stage and the crowd for two and a half incredible hours.

I was in the mosh pit.  Teengirl had insisted and in a bid to prove my agelessness I was more than happy to accompany her.  It’s not like I’m new to mosh pits.  But this was teengirl’s first one.  I was worried, but perhaps worried is too strong a word, I think I felt more trepidation and apprehension.  It’s when I look back it’s worry that I feel, but that comes from hindsight.

We could see nothing but the backs of men who seemed to be about 10 foot tall and as the the first few chords of 99 Revolutions blew from the speakers the crowd picked us up in their wave and we were pitched back and forth like ragdolls adrift at sea.

Green Day guitar

Green Day Rocks

Upon the end of the song the man who was in front of me was behind me, four people further along, teengirl was two rows in front of me and to my right now.  The woman I’d been bouncing off for the past 7 minutes had gone completely.

Allegedly 60,000 people filled the Emirates Stadium that June night, it felt like at least triple that amount were crammed into the mosh pit and at least half of them were hulking great sweaty men who insisted on putting their arms up.  I was tempted, but reckoned it was bad form to ask them to put their smelly arms down.

At one point I seemed to be the babysitter for 3 young children who must’ve been between 8 and 10 years old and who seemed to be missing a parent or guardian.  As a mother of course I felt responsible (although their own parent(s) obviously didn’t!) and when a giant crowdsurfing twentysomething almost landed on top of one of them I couldn’t help but tell him off!!

Every paragraph is just proving to you that I’m an old fuddy duddy isn’t it?

Billie Joe playing guitar at Green Day gig Emirates Stadium London

Billie Joe and his guitar at Green Day gig

Thankfully the moshing was pretty non-violent except for small pockets throughout the crowd and teengirl and I managed quite nicely to bounce around and yet still stay together.  Sometimes when the waves got particularly strong or the hands and backs around us became too claustrophobic I felt a not so small hand clasp into mine and hold on for dear life and we rode out the wave together.

We jumped and we sang.  We screamed and we shouted.  We danced and we were pushed all over the place.  We hugged and we smiled.

Until Billie Joe brought out the big guns – the t-shirt cannon that is.

As he prepared to launch t-shirt number 3 into the crowd Billie Joe held the gun aloft and slowly fired it up into the air.  The music played on behind him, the guitar screamed in slow motion even the beat of Trey’s drums seemed to slow as the people in front of us realised the t-shirt was headed our way.

I watched their hands go up, I saw their heads rise up to the sky scanning it for the shirt.  I clocked the minute they saw it soaring above them and I began to move backwards before I even saw their feet move.

They moved as one hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of fans desperate to catch that t-shirt.  Hands raised to the sky, heads up they surged backwards towards us.

I tried.  I really tried to stay on my feet.  It took mere seconds but it was long enough for me to think I could get really hurt.

I looked up as I fell and saw their backs, their arms all coming down towards me.  I knew if I didn’t get up they’d trip over my feet and I’d get crushed as they came down on top of me.

And then I was on my feet.

Billie Joe's Toilet Roll Cannon - similar to the t-shirt cannon but it fires toilet roll into the crowd.

Billie Joe’s Toilet Roll Cannon – similar to the t-shirt cannon but it fires toilet roll into the crowd.

Teengirl, all 5 foot of her, had grabbed my arm and yanked me back up on my feet before the others in front of me fell.

She’d done the sensible thing and turned round away from the crowd.

I stood next to her, holding onto her, shaking.

She grabbed me in a big hug and said: ‘See you’ve nothing to worry about me mum, I’m the one making sure you’re ok.’

And she’s got some grip on her.  The next morning I had a lovely four finger and thumb bruise on my arm.

I am joking when I say I was traumatised but it did give me a really big scare.  It’s taken me since June to be able to actually write this down.

Billie Joe Armstrong - Green Day gig

Billie Joe Armstrong – Green Day gig

PS I don’t know if it was just me but I didn’t leave the Green Day gig with my ears ringing.  Made me wonder if there’s sound level rules and regs at the Emirates?

 

 

All the photographs on this blog have been taken by me, if you wish to reuse them please credit me and link back to the blog.  Thanks.  If you don’t I’ll ask you to take them down.


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