Exciting! The Path at Puzzle Effect in Phoenix (November 13, 2019)

You and your fellow explorers have entered an ancient temple. You must complete the challenges before the ancient evil consumes the earth.

This room is very unique in that it doesn’t use traditional locks. Instead, everything is controlled by weights and magnets. When you successfully solve a puzzle, you’ll often hear something open or drop in the other room. You then excitedly run in to figure out what just happened. The puzzles and riddles are very well created and involve Chinese characters, phases of the moon, constellations, maps, dragons, and the Chinese calendar.

 

Tonight’s team, the Quinnsters, finished in just the nick of time with just 2 seconds remaining! During the escape, you don’t have to ask for clues. Instead, the administrator will guide you if something is unclear and you are stuck. The end, when everything comes full circle, is a truly exciting moment!

 

Book The Path now at Puzzle Effect!

 

Cost of a ticket: $27 (per person)

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It – (Especially when it’s just one person)

Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

 

Quinn Delaney

California Reggae Rock! Through the Roots at Last Exit Live in Phoenix (November 10, 2019)

On a warm night in Phoenix, locals are looking to let loose.  Through the Roots is here to bring a little Southern California to the crowd.  Listening to their set transports you to a warm and sunny beach in San Diego.  You can feel the sand between the toes as you admire the backdrop of colorful lights the color of a sunset.  As they play “Weekend”, the audience happily dances along.  “’Cause baby this weekend, I’m doin’ what I wanna do.”

The lead singer constantly says how much he enjoys coming to play in Arizona. He always has a great time playing here. Another thing he loves is a good fog machine. The stage is constantly filled with a thick fog.

Late in the set they play “Higher”. “I believe that if we come together, we can get higher, higher, higher.” It’s such a beautiful song that puts a smile on everyone’s face.

They also played a few tracks from their new album, Arrival. The new songs sound great and prove that this band is still going strong. Their entire set kept a fantastic vibe going the entire time.

Quinn Delaney

Vibrant! San Fermin at Valley Bar in Phoenix (November 10, 2019)

Finding the Valley Bar is a bit of a challenge. When you arrive via Google Maps, there is nothing there but a dark alley. You nervously head down the alley and then find around the corner there is a very small red neon sign that states “Valley Bar.” After showing your ID to bartender, even if you are in your 50’s, you head down the stairs into the basement of a building. The concert takes places in a small room with a bar that could hold maybe 150 people.

San Fermin is the creation of Brooklyn composer and songwriter Ellis Ludwig-Leone. Their self-titled debut album is strongly influenced by Ludwig-Leone’s unique background in classical music, which includes a job assisting composer/arranger Nico Muhly. After finishing his musical studies at Yale, Ludwig-Leone wrote the album in six weeks while holed up in a studio on the mountainous border between Alberta and British Columbia. He focused on lifeʼs top-shelf issues – youth, nostalgia, anxiety, unrequited love – and tied these vast themes to different characters through vocal contributions from longtime friend Allen Tate, as well as Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig of Lucius.

Tonight, the eight-piece band fills the small place with their vibrant sounds.  Claire Wellin commands the stage with enthusiastic tosses of her huge mane of hair and brilliant smile.  Karlie Bruce displays her vocal talent during their hit song, Sonsick, and provides wonderful back-up vocals with Wellin throughout. Many songs feature fantastic brass that energizes the band and the crowd. Allen Tate’s vocal performance is impressive as well and sounds similar to the lead singer from The National.  The rendition of Methuselah brought the house down.  During a lively instrumental, the trumpet and saxophone players come to the front of the stage the cheers of the audience who are enthusiastic for the entire performance. They close the memorable night with “Cairo” from their 2017 album, Belong.

Quinn Delaney

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Powerful! First Floor Theater Presents Sugar In Our Wounds at The Den Theatre (Through November 23, 2019)

It is the middle of the civil war. A group of slaves are living in the deep south. One of the men is secretly being taught to read by the master’s daughter, who wishes to become a teacher. This is the only nice thing that she does.  He reads about the possibility of all the slaves being freed. An unexpected newcomer arrives and a love story forms in this most unlikely situation.

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This play truly brings to life a dark time in our nation’s history. It’s one thing to read about it in history books, and quite another to see it played out right in front of you. It’s a very powerful production and the actors go through the ringer to put it on every night. During the talkback, they all mention how afterwards they need to disconnect and focus on self care.

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Ashley Crowe is excellent as Mattie, who is looking for love even in this terrible situation. Renee Lockett is outstanding as Aunt Mama, who tries to care for everyone. Grainne Ortlieb puts on a powerful performance as the master’s daughter, who is very racist and the villain of the story. During the talkback, she says how playing this character can be lonely and wouldn’t be possible without the great support she gets from her fellow castmates. Londen Shannon is great as the newcomer who is standoffish at first. Michael Turrentine is great as a young slave facing some difficult decisions.

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Get tickets now for Sugar In Our Wounds through November 23!

 

Cost of a ticket: $35

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Exceptional Value

Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

 

Quinn Delaney

First Chicago Show! Angie McMahon opening for Hozier at The Chicago Theatre (November 3, 2019)

This is Angie McMahon’s first show in Chicago. Talk about starting at the top! She is also playing solo tonight without her band. After introducing herself, she says she is now going to play some sad songs. She plays beautifully and her voice is fantastic as well. The audience is incredibly encouraging and gives her a giant round of applause after each song.

“This is another song about my dating experience,” she says. On one date, she spent the whole dinner explaining gender equality. The next song definitely had some anger behind it.

She is very charming and wins the crowd over talking between songs. “I’m from Australia,” she says. “But, you can probably tell that from my accent!” Later on, “I’m wearing my own merch. These socks say ‘Slow Mover’. You can buy some in the lobby, or not.”

It was a great short set and a great start to a promising career.

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Hozier was excellent as well. See our past review here.

Quinn Delaney

Exciting! The Effect at Strawdog Theatre (Through November 23, 2019)

A man and a woman have signed up for a clinical drug trial for an antidepressant. They are given drugs that raise their dopamine levels which satisfies their natural reward systems. This leads to them feeling very attracted to each other and to fall in love. The doctors are wondering if this is strictly an effect of the drug or if it is just the result of them being in the long trial together. The doctors also have a long history together which complicates things further.

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The first half of the play is very exciting as the drugs are having a very positive effect and love is in the air. After the intermission, everything begins to unravel and everyone must struggle to cope with the situation.

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Yeaji Kim created a pristine white and grey set.  The bed and walls are white. The floor is grey. Along with the white lab coats, the environment is well established.

Sam Hubbard is powerful as Tristan, a man who reacts very strongly to the drugs. Daniella Pereira is fantastic as Connie, who also falls in love, but questions whether it is the result of the drug. Cary Shoda is great as the lead doctor, who explains how he came into this line of work with a great story. Lastly, Justine C Turner is excellent as the other doctor who has a complicated history with her boss.

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Get tickets now for The Effect through November 23rd!

Cost of a ticket: $35

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It

Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

Quinn Delaney

Beautiful Music! Ray LaMontagne and Kacy & Clayton at The Chicago Theatre (October 25, 2019)

Ray LaMontagne takes the stage at The Chicago Theatre with Carl Broemel, a guitarist from My Morning Jacket. They begin with “Be Here Now”. Ray’s fantastic voice along with their great guitar synergy makes for a beautiful sound.

Soon afterwards, they play “Beg Steal or Borrow”. This is one of his more upbeat songs. “All the friends you knew in school, they used to be so cool, now they just bore you”. He doesn’t say much between songs. He just allows the songs speak for themselves.

Very sparingly, Ray plays the harmonica during tonight’s performance. It’s absolutely heavenly when he does. He should play it a lot more often. It’s just as good as when Neil Young plays this small instrument.

There are many couples embracing in the theatre. His music is very romantic.

The moment that he speaks the most is when he talks about the opener, Kacy & Clayton. He comments how they are so young and talented. He completely loves their sound.

In the encore, they play “Jolene”. The entire audience sings “Still don’t know what love means” along with them and continue to replay it in their mind as they happily make their way home.

See the full setlist here.

Quinn Delaney