Eisley, Civilian, and Backwards Dancer in Chicago

Eisley

Eisley

Earlier this month, the band Eisley made their way through Chicago, accompanied by labelmates Backwards Dancer and Civilian. The night started with the incredible energy of Backwards Dancer, a healthy mix of emo-punk and strong vocals. By the end of their set frontman, Zack Shaw was on the ground tearing at his guitar. This Massachusetts based band is starting to make a name for themselves. Backwards Dancer just released their self-titled LP at the beginning of March.  

Backwards Dancer

Backwards Dancer

Civilian’s set was a different pace, but equally satisfying. These guys were perfectly in sync with each other and played songs off their album “You Wouldn't Believe What Privilege Costs,” released this past October. Civilian is a group of solid musicians, with warm vocals that blend perfectly and sharp musical elements. Definitely a band to keep on your radar.

Civilian 

Civilian 

Though the members of Eisley have transformed over the years, the current members of Sherri DuPree and Elle Pucket on vocals and guitar, Garron DuPree on bass, Remington DuPree on drums, and Jedidiah Lachmann with the keys — truly a unique group of brilliant performers. Eisley delighted us with not only songs from past releases, but songs from their newly released album “I Am Only Dreaming.” Eisley always has a way of making a good thing better, between their brilliant light show and overall charm.  

Civilian 

Civilian 

Eisley

Eisley 

Eisley 

Eisley

Eisley

Civilian

Eisley 

Eisley 

You can catch Eisley's tour dates here

 

All photos by the author.

Virtual Reality: Seeing Into the Future

PlayStation VR

PlayStation VR

Virtual reality (VR) is an up-and-coming technological breakthrough that is allowing us, for the first time to be truly immersed in a different world. Phone and video game companies have each published their own version of a virtual reality device to use with their own cell phones or consoles. This article will primarily look at two of these, the HTC Vive and PlayStation VR.

The HTC Vive is a VR headset that came out in April of last year and has sold over 420,000 units so far. HTC is a prominent cell phone company and was one of the first to release a VR headset. The most popular game, or “experience” for the Vive is Job Simulator, where the player is placed in an office-like environment and must work to figure out their day. This game is popular on many VR consoles, but over 78,000 people have played it on Vive, according to Fortune.com. Other games increasing in popularity are virtual reality casino games, including live casino games with fellow online VR players, from poker to online slot machines.

PlayStation VR is an attachment for Sony’s PlayStation 4 console. At $499.99, it is the least costly of any of the VR machines out there. Of course, that is after you fork out $400 for the console itself. Outselling both the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, the PlayStation VR has sold 750,000 units since its release. Launched last October, Sony has around 50 games and demos available, including Resident Evil 7, Batman: Arkham VR, and an exclusive VR mission for the popular game Star Wars: Battlefront. 

The Battlefront VR mission allows the player to climb into the cockpit of an X-wing and fight Imperial TIE fighters. This mission will also be free to players who already bought the game and who have the headset. DICE, the developers of Battlefront, worked closely with Criterion, to develop an authentic VR experience.

With the advent of VR and many of the devices in their first generations, are VR machines profitable for companies that want to expand into the market? In January, Samsung announced they had sold 5 million Gear VR headsets, outselling all the other VR headsets combined. Factors for Samsung's success include the fact that it has been on the shelves longest, and has one of the lowest price points at $99.99, second only to the $79 Google Daydream View. 

A new report from market research firm Super Data estimates that 6.3 million VR headsets were shipped in 2016 for a total revenue of $1.8B. Not a bad start, but just a small dent in the $228B consumer electronics market. There are still many VR skeptics and consumer adoption rates are relatively modest. Some forecasters predict VR headset sales to hit 20 million units by 2018, and with eight new headsets on their way to the market, this seems feasible. Only time will tell if virtual reality is profitable for companies in the years to come.  

Stratford Festival: The Classics in Canada

The Festival Theatre in Stratford, Ontario

The Festival Theatre in Stratford, Ontario

Canada: the land of the maple leaf and the Mountie. If you’ve never had the pleasure of visiting, let this article be your travel guru. The truth is that you don’t need to go to a bustling city or massive landmark to bask in the wealth of Canada. It’s entirely possible that some of the most fun you’ll ever have is just a few hours drive from the Michigan border.

So, what exactly am I referring to? Only the Stratford Festival of course. Previously known as the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, this magnificent spectacle is held in the tiny town of Stratford, Ontario from April through October. If you’re a fan of the theater and anything related to the classic literary genius—it’s a must-see event.

Inside Festival Theatre (Photo: Elyse Booth)

Inside Festival Theatre (Photo: Elyse Booth)

It all began over half a century ago when the railway industry departed the city of Stratford, Ontario. The Shakespeare Festival was born in hopes of a way to bolster the economy. With help from Canadian theater pioneer Dora Mayor and British director Tyrone Guthrie, the festival saw its first play of Richard III on the July 13th, 1953.

Now in the 21st century, the Stratford Festival has grown immensely in both size and popularity. As North America’s leading classical theatre, it draws half a million visitors a year. Between their four impressive venues the entertainment possibilities are endless. Some past shows include classics like Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Othello. The Festival has also attracted the work of some notable actors for both long and short periods. It’s been the long-time home for thespians like Brian Bedford, Brent Carver, and Colm Feore, just to name a few. This list grows larger and larger as the years go by.

Members of the company in The Adventures of Pericles. (Photo: David Hou)

Members of the company in The Adventures of Pericles. (Photo: David Hou)

It seems perfectly fitting that such a place should host an entire event dedicated to the writer. In fact, William Shakespeare himself was born in the town of Stratford-upon-Avon, England (see what they did there?) nearly 400 years ago. I attended this magical event during the summer and learned a few tidbits of information.

For example, Shakespeare isn’t the only famous person to leave an impression on the city. In his early years before the fame, pop star Justin Bieber used to play guitar outside the Avon Theatre. I was even lucky enough to stand next to the gold star on the sidewalk, which commemorates Bieber for his success.

In front of Avon Theatre, Stratford

If by some momentous feat you’ve seen every play in the Festival, the fun doesn’t have to end. Spend a moment with a handcrafted latte at Balzac’s Coffee Roasters. Afterwards, take a drive northeast and in two hours you’ll find yourself in Toronto. Between the Stratford Festival and various attractions, one day in Canada certainly isn’t enough.

A photo posted by Hillary (@_hwonggg) on

Tickets for Stratford Festival 2017 season are now officially on sale! Book before February 7 to save up to 25% with early bird pricing. Visit stratfordfestival.ca to book!

 

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