Nothing Gold Can Stay


In April 2007, the eighth-seeded Golden State Warriors, led by Baron Davis, Stephen Jackson, and Jason Richardson stunned the basketball world. In dramatic, underdog fashion, the Warriors defeated the top-seeded Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the NBA Western Conference playoffs, claiming the best-of-seven series by a count of 4-2.

The Warriors snuck into the playoffs, finishing two games over .500 at 42-40. Don Nelson and his squad finished the season on a tear, winning 16 of the final 21 games. This marked the team’s first playoff appearance since the 1993 – 1994 campaign.

Golden State carried this late-season momentum into the postseason. They came. They saw. And, they won the first round. Then, they partied like they had won the NBA Championship.

In the Western Conference semifinals versus the Jazz, the Warriors came out flat. They were out-rebounded, and they could not execute in critical moments. Utah won the best-of-seven series in five games.

Still, the Warriors organization and its fans uphold a great deal of pride when it comes to the “We Believe” era. On Tuesday night at Oracle Arena, the 2007 team was honored in a pre-game ceremony. Davis, Jackson, Richardson, Monta Ellis, Al Harrington, (former / current Warrior) Matt Barnes, and a handful of other key players were in attendance.

Having witnessed the impressive feat firsthand, and to be able to reflect on it, is quite satisfying. It is thoroughly important to honor past heroes and past achievements.

But, at the same time, we cannot get caught up in the nostalgia. We cannot live in the past.

For instance, imagine seeing your favorite band from your adolescence perform 15 years after the fact. It’s fun to reminisce. It’s fun to sing the songs (because you know every word). And in that moment, you remember how the music complemented your past experiences. However, 15 years is a long time. Things change. People change. Attitudes adjust. Interests fade. While nostalgia is euphoric, it is short-lived. The key is to live in the moment.

The time is now for these 2016 – 2017 Warriors. After last season’s meltdown, coupled with the offseason acquisition of Kevin Durant, the expectations are through the roof.

As we navigate through the Western Conference semifinals, we find that the Warriors are pitted against the Utah Jazz once again. Some may consider it a story of redemption. While the cast of characters is different, the ultimate prize remains.

The reunion was merely a complementary storyline. It was an added incentive to tune into the game. It generated a nostalgic effect for the viewer, and it effectively boosted TV ratings. But, hey, that’s business as usual in America!

The real question is, did the tech brethren and the real estate tycoons sitting courtside at “Roaracle” genuinely appreciate the gesture?

Did these folks experience the excitement during the “We Believe” era? Did they own season tickets during the 2007 run? Or, did they recently hop on the bandwagon?

See, money is power. And, winning is contagious. The Warriors are a bona fide contender nowadays because they have powerful, experienced leaders, both on the court and in the management sphere. Prior editions of Warriors basketball (e.g. “Run TMC,” “We Believe”) found a good deal of success, but they could not sustain it. There was talent, but no vision.

In two years time, the Warriors will ditch Oracle Arena and the City of Oakland, a place they’ve called “home” for the past 46 seasons. The transition is bittersweet for many longtime fans.

The Golden State (or perhaps the “San Francisco”) Warriors will open the 2019-2020 season at the Chase Center, situated in the trendy Mission Bay enclave in San Francisco. Will a new setting generate a better experience? Will it provide a better home-court advantage?

It’s safe to assume that the overall vibe will be different. Furthermore, the price of admission will spike. Meanwhile, expectations for the organization will increase accordingly. There is added pressure for Joe Lacob and Peter Guber to deliver a top-notch product on an annual basis.

We know this much: head coach Steve Kerr, along with Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, and all supporting cast members represent the “Golden Age” of Warriors basketball. It would be prudent to acknowledge the widespread notion that says, “Nothing gold can stay.” So enjoy it while it lasts, Dub Nation.

Let’s Go Warriors!



Live Review: The Story So Far (December 26, 2015, 924 Gilman Street, Berkeley, CA)


“The youth are not the future, but it is what they become.”

— Enemy You

I finally made it to Gilman after all of these years. I have been listening to punk rock for nearly 17 years, and had never made it to the legendary performance space in West Berkeley. Perhaps when I was younger, I was into the bands that had outgrown the Gilman vibe. Furthermore, over the past few years, I have spent a considerable amount of time away from the Bay Area. I have been back around for the past few months, and took this opportunity to cross 924 Gilman Street off of the ‘ole bucket list.


Now, I know what you are thinking. This guy is nothing more than a goddamn, trendy-ass poser!

Indeed, on Saturday night at 924 Gilman Street, I felt a bit out of place upon entering the community center. All around, there was a sea of kids, kids, and more kids. At the ripe age of 30, I thought to myself, “Am I getting too old for this shit?” The short answer: “HELL NO.”

I am older, wiser, and a bit more jaded than the average Gilman attendee. I do not go to as many shows nowadays, but I have not lost touch just yet. I am just a bit more selective; I attend the great shows. Saturday night’s bill just happened to feature Walnut Creek’s own, The Story So Far.

While admiring the landscape at this “DIY, cultural landmark,” I realized that I was standing in the same dingy auditorium where Jesse Michaels and Tim Armstrong had spread “Knowledge and “Unity” amongst the local community. Meanwhile, I stood in the same venue where Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt, and Tré Cool got their start. And I was, in fact, in the same room where Mike Burkett and Davey Havok  launched their careers. Indeed, 924 Gilman is a Bay Area rock ‘n’ roll institution. It remains a breeding ground for greatness.

The fascinating aspect is that, aside from hairstyles, nothing has really changed in the past 29 years. The global economy is still dictated by which God you believe in. Americans are still politically divided; our education system is still flawed; and violence and corruption are still rampant.

Meanwhile, the kids are still singing along, crowd surfing, and forming circle pits. They are fed up with the status quo, the notion of conformity, and other societal issues.

At 924 Gilman Street, there is no B.S. allowed. No drugs. No alcohol. No graffiti. No stage diving. No violence. No racism. No vandalism. The experience is therapeutic. It is good old-fashioned fun. It is live music for all ages.

It was evident that most everybody in the room came to see The Story So Far. Once U.S. Light Brigade and Culture Abuse (I missed Mobins Child) finished their sets, it was go time. Parker Cannon (lead vocals), Kelen Capener (bass), Kevin Geyer (guitar/vocals), William Levy (guitar), and Ryan Torf (drums) emerged on stage and encouraged the crowd to “get rowdy.” The audience subsequently rushed forward and erupted in unison to the tune of “Empty Space.” The band promptly switched gears and delivered “Nerve,” the lead single from their self-titled album, released in May 2015.

The well-balanced set list featured cuts from all three LPs: the aforementioned The Story So Far, What You Don’t See (2013), and Under Soil and Dirt (2011). New tracks like “Heavy Gloom” and “Distaste” coupled with previous standouts like “Things I Can’t Change,” “Quicksand,” and “Face Value” were received with a great deal of enthusiasm from the sold-out, capacity crowd.

Lacking were classics like “Brevity,” “Mt. Diablo,” and “Rally Cap,” but the band’s professionalism and maturity were on display on this cold December evening. Between songs, Parker and his band mates would clap along with the fans to bid thanks for the overwhelming support from the Bay Area punk rock community.

Frankly, this is what it is all about. It is not about album sales anymore. It is not about going viral. It is about coming together as one, leaving your problems at the door, and simply enjoying yourself for a few hours.

The show ended, as all good things do, after a short encore highlighted by “States and Minds” and “Roam.” The crowd wanted more, but reluctantly filed out of the venue back into the 30-degree weather. As for me, I enjoyed my first time at 924 Gilman Street. I will be back. Apparently, punk rock is not just for kids.

Set List

“Empty Space”


“Things I Can’t Change”

“The Glass”

“Heavy Gloom”


“Bad Luck”



“Face Value”




“States and Minds”



Live Review: The Shell Corporation with Bad Cop / Bad Cop, The Bombpops, Murderland, & Squarecrow (March 6, 2015, The Redwood Bar & Grill, Los Angeles, CA)


We were blessed with 80-degree weather on Friday afternoon in Los Angeles. Fortunately, the scintillating conditions carried over into the evening hours. By 9pm, the punks began to congregate at downtown L.A.’s finest pirate-themed watering hole, The Redwood Bar & Grill, anxiously awaiting a stacked lineup of emerging talent.

First up was Squarecrow, a three-piece, straightforward power-pop / pop-punk band out of San Diego. At this point, people were still filing into the venue, and others were huddled around the back bar, conversing with one another, and securing their first round of drinks. As is the case with most openers, there wasn’t much of a reception. Generally speaking, I think they could have benefited from another guitar player. It would have really rounded out their sound. The trio ended abruptly with “Wayside,” which is actually a pretty catchy song. It’s featured on their self-released EP, B-Sides (2013).

RIYL: Banquets, American Hi-Fi, Jimmy Eat World

Next up was Murderland, a horror punk quintet from L.A. I had never heard of these guys, but I was thoroughly impressed with their performance. The riffs reminded me of Strung Out. The energy exuded by lead vocalist “Mike Murder” was reminiscent of Jim Lindberg (of Pennywise). As they moved through their 30-minute set, they delivered an authentic rendition of a genre defined by the Misfits, Samhain, and Blitzkid. Hey, it’s pretty cool when a band can attach an addictive melody to songs like “Hacksaw Romance,” “Die Screaming,” and “Fetus Eaters.” And of course, the second band of the night always has the best on-stage banter, or so they claimed. Indeed, Murderland might be on to something here.

Murderland at The Redwood Bar and Grill in Los Angeles, CA (March 6, 2015)


Find Murderland on Spotify

RIYL: Misfits, Samhain, Blitzkid, Calabrese, AFI (Black Sails to Art of Drowning era)

After a quick sound check, The Bombpops graced us with their presence. Instantly, Jen Razavi and Poli Van Dam (who share the vocal duties) launched their trademark “call-and-response” format, and assured the crowd that – yes, girls can rock out, too (and quite effectively, I might add). The duo layers their songs with sweet “oohs” and “ahhs,” while simultaneously shredding on guitar. Paired with bassist Neil Wayne and drummer Josh Lewis, the pop-punk quartet wasted little time, delivering an array of crowd-pleasing anthems, such as “Outta Hand,” “Like I Care,” and “Grocery Store.” They played a handful of new songs that I didn’t recognize, and strategically placed the radio-ready “Can O’ Worms” (via the 2014 self-released 7”, Can Of Worms) towards the end of the set. Hailing from Oceanside, CA, The Bombpops have since relocated to the L.A. basin, and are primed for a serious run. Stay tuned, folks.

The Bombpops

The Bombpops

RIYL: The Queers, Teen Idols, Screeching Weasel, Descendents

The estrogen level was cranked up even further when Bad Cop / Bad Cop hit the stage. Stacey Dee (lead vocals / guitar), Jennie Cotterill (vocals / guitar), Rinh Re (bass/vocals), and Myra Gallarza (drums) provided the audience with an engaging set, peppered with an assortment of wonderfully catchy songs. Their execution was spot on, resulting in a very tight performance. In between the witty on-stage banter, the girls played highly contagious cuts like “Rodeo” and “My Life,” both derived from the Boss Lady EP (2014, Fat Wreck Chords). They also played a ton of new songs, which are slated to appear on a “new record,” which is due out “later this year” on Fat Wreck Chords.

Bad Cop / Bad Cop

Bad Cop / Bad Cop

RIYL: Enemy You, Good Riddance, Love Equals Death

Finally, it was time for The Shell Corporation. Unfortunately, the crowd had thinned out a bit by the time they took the stage. Lead singer Jan Drees wondered if they were actually the “headliner” or if they just had “the privilege to play last.” It’s a shame that more people didn’t stick around, because these dudes rock. Period. Regardless, Drees spent most of the set pacing back and forth between the stage and the audience, gesturing the crowd in a Greg Graffin-type fashion. Drees, Curtiss Lopez (guitar / vocals), Sean Moore (bass / vocals), and Jake Margolis (drums) were precisely on target. They ripped through a handful of songs (“The Death of Us,” “Maguire’s Plea,” “Appetite for Distraction,” “Trust Us”) from their latest release, Mandrake (2014, Paper and Plastick Records / Solidarity Recordings). Towards the end of the set, Drees vented some frustration with the world at large, sensing that “nobody is listening,” and “nothing ever changes,” and furthermore, this was his time to “bitch about the fact that nobody’s listening.” I couldn’t agree more.

RIYL: Bad Religion, Goldfinger, Banner Pilot, Red City Radio

The Shell Corporation

The Shell Corporation

As I exited the venue, I noticed the temperature had significantly dropped, probably into the low 60s. But I didn’t need a jacket. The community, the camaraderie, the comic relief, and the tunes ringing in my ears provided a nice blanket. Yeah, shows like this keep you warm for a long time.

The Story


So, I started watching Melrose Place. Don’t ask why, and furthermore, please don’t tell anybody! Now, I’m hooked. I might have to buy a Hulu subscription after I finish the first 32 episodes, which are on the house.

The first few episodes seem pretty tame (that is, compared to the developments in subsequent seasons). Thus far, there’s a lot of focus on character development, along with some intriguing storylines, and a handful of cultural tie-ins that capture the mood of Los Angeles in the early 1990s.

The original cast members (from left to right): Amy Locane, Grant Show, Josie Bissett, Thomas Calabro, Vanessa A. Williams, Doug Savant, Courtney Thorne-Smith, Andrew Shue

It’s a group of twentysomethings living together in an apartment complex in West Hollywood, California. Michael Mancini is a doctor. He’s married to Jane Mancini. She works at a trendy clothing boutique.

Alison Parker, at least initially, takes on the “good girl” persona. Originally from Wisconsin, she is college-educated, and is looking to land an executive position in the advertising world. Alison shares an apartment with Billy Campbell, an uninhibited, selfish, and adventurous young man. He aspires to be a writer, but for now, he’s lost. He spends time driving his cab around L.A. in search of answers.

Jake Hanson is an oft-unemployed construction worker / mechanic. He has a troubled past and commitment issues. Sandy Harling is an actress. She is very insecure. She also works as a waitress at the local hangout, Shooter’s Bar and Grill. Jake and Sandy are in love, but they can’t seem to embrace it.

Rhonda Blair is a dancer-turned-aerobics instructor. She is not quite sure what she wants out of life. Finally, Matt Fielding works at a halfway house, helping troubled youth find their way. He is also openly gay. He is brilliant at solving other peoples’ problems, yet he can’t seem to get his own life in order.

The show pushes the boundaries at times, commenting on race relations, homosexuality, abortion, and the stereotypical L.A. lifestyle. It’s trashy. It’s predictable. It’s powerful. It reflects life in general. It’s perfect.

But again, why am I watching? Why now? I’m 23 years late to the party.

Coincidentally, I just moved to L.A. about a month ago. No doubt, it’s an odd place, unlike any other city I’ve lived in (namely, San Francisco and New York). It’s a melting pot of ethnicities and personalities. It’s a highly competitive landscape. If you’re not from here, you come here to pursue your dreams. But at what cost? There are so many people out here with varying ambitions, and there’s simply not enough time to get things done.

No matter where you are going, you have to give yourself an hour to get there. You have to be patient and proactive in this town, not only in terms of your career objectives, but also while changing lanes on the 110. And, you have to embrace the culture. Everybody meets for coffee to discuss ideas. But what’s an idea without proper execution, management, and follow-through? And, oh yeah, everybody is a writer in this town. Everybody has a story to tell. The question is, can you captivate an audience with your story?

By now, you’re probably wondering, “Why the hell did you move to L.A.?” Well, I came here to find opportunity in the music industry and document my own experiences. After all, life is about our experiences, and what we learn from them.

Also, you can’t beat the weather down here. It’s sunny here just about every day. That said, you need to carry a sunny disposition with you at all times, or you won’t get very far in this town. You need to think positively, stay busy, and interact with the right folks in your industry.

So, what does it mean to actually “make it” in this business of entertainment? From the artistic side, it depends on what you want out of life. Do you want to be a celebrity, or do you want to be a niche artist and make a comfortable living doing what you love?

From the business perspective, it’s all about finding the hits? After all, it’s a hits-driven business. Shows like Fresh Off The Boat will inevitably sink. This show, in particular, is chock full of one-liners, overly dependent on stereotypes, and it focuses on a specific era in time (mid-1990s). There’s not enough flexibility for development.

Instead, think of something that people will still want to watch 25 years down the line. Think of a show that will attract viewers from different generations, a show that is independent of trends, and thereby, stands the test of time.

Presently, I’m really enjoying Better Call Saul, which is the prequel to Breaking Bad. Like Breaking Bad, the show is set in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Based on the characters’ use of flip phones, the show is presumably set in the early 2000s. The series follows a struggling, small-time criminal defense lawyer, Jimmy McGill (who will eventually assume an alter ego, “Saul Goodman,” or “it’s-all-good-man” in future episodes). McGill manages a fledgling solo law practice, whose main office consists of a dimly lit room in the back of a nail salon. It appears that McGill will build and represent a clientele of intelligent crooks.

Thus far, it’s highly engaging. The pace, the character development, and the narrative style (often complemented by disjointed “flashback” scenes) are reminiscent of Breaking Bad. The formula is there, now it is just a matter of finding out how and why Saul Goodman crosses paths with Heisenberg, a.k.a. Walter White.

Isn’t it ironic? Most everything is a cliché – you know, everything is predictable; yet we can’t seem to figure anything out! Most viewers know why Saul Goodman will encounter Walter White. It’s inevitable. Saul Goodman’s hands will get too dirty, he will be in too deep. Goodman will become an integral player in the local drug business. He will assume the role of “peacemaker” and “dealmaker.” He will be the “liaison,” if you will, between the criminals and the justice system. The question is, “how will this scenario unfold?” And, again, at what cost?

So, if everything is predictable, what keeps us coming back week after week? Why are we so enthralled? Why do we live vicariously through fictional characters? Furthermore, is the mundane more satisfying than the “twist,” or is it merely based on personal preference?

Look at it this way, isn’t The OC just a reincarnation of Beverly Hills 90210? Likewise, isn’t Entourage a mirror image of Sex and The City? Isn’t Friends basically the same as Seinfeld?

It’s the same story over and over again, with a different cast of characters and a different setting. Yes, times change, and technology advances different aspects of society, but trends are cyclical and the philosophical nature of our existence remains intact. We have embarked on a search for purpose and meaning, just like Walter White did in Breaking Bad. The caveat is that reality is more than five seasons in duration. It’s an ongoing struggle.

As individuals, we need a support system, a group of close friends and family in order to get by. And we need brutal honesty at times, because how else will we better ourselves?

A television series, or any form of art for that matter, is destined for greatness when it can capture this aspect of friendship, the importance of relationships, and what it means to be human. History proves that nobody can do anything solely by him/herself. Surround yourself with great people, and the ideas will come to fruition.

Remember, “The story is the foundation of all entertainment. You must have a good story, otherwise it’s just masturbation.”

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to catch another episode of Melrose Place. Shhh!!! 

Noise du Jour: No Parents


It was raw. It was offensive. It was explicit. It was absurd. And there was not a single parent in the audience. It was perfect.

Such was the scene last Wednesday night at the Bootleg Theater in Los Angeles. A modest crowd of twentysomethings gathered around oddly situated cocktail tables in the middle of the dance floor. Others clutched the perimeters of the warehouse-turned-performance space, sipping craft beer, and enjoying a solid night of modern rock.

I missed the first act, Contrafang, but arrived in time to catch the blues-inspired Travesura, followed by the dreamy indie rockers, So Many Wizards.

Then, No Parents hit the stage.

No Parents 2I didn’t know what to expect, exactly. Sure, I listened to the EP before the show. The band’s sound merged with the whole left coast, lo-fi garage/surf rock vibe, à la FIDLAR and together PANGEA. But when you’re lumped together with the rest of the scene, how do you manage to set yourself apart from your peers?

I had read a handful of reviews here and there. Still, I felt the need to witness No Parents in an intimate setting. Because the live show is everything. This is a dime-a-dozen business. If you can’t draw attention to your band, if you can’t engage an audience, if you can’t differentiate your band/brand in some form or another, then you fall into obscurity.

With No Parents, it’s no problem. The live show was killer! Lead vocalist Zoe Reign, alongside guitarist Ryan “Ducky” McGuffin, bassist Killian LeDuke, and drummer Monte Nojera, delivered a raucous, yet crowd-pleasing experience. They were over-the-top and brutally honest. They were in-your-face, even if you didn’t want them there. They were rowdy, extremely loud, and downright entertaining.

No Parents @ the Bootleg Theater (Los Angeles, CA)

No Parents @ the Bootleg Theater (Los Angeles, CA)

It was a night filled with irresponsibility, indecency, and everything in between. Along the way, Reign and his band mates trashed the modern notion of conformity. They played hook-laden songs about pizza, hippies, and existentialism. They recalled unspeakable encounters with the opposite sex at the finest fast food establishments in SoCal. And, then they broke the news to Grandma about their lifestyle choices.

On multiple occasions, Reign jumped into the crowd to liven up the pit. He lent the mic to fans near the stage so they could sing along. In between verses, he’d take a swig of Budweiser, and then resume regularly scheduled activities. On this night, Reign kept most of his clothes on; however, he’s been known to strip down to undies, presumably at venues with poor ventilation. Yeah, it sounds outrageous, but, it’s just rock ‘n’ roll, baby!

So go ahead, crank up the debut EP, and “May The Thirst Be With You.” Relax, dude. Your parents aren’t around to tell you to turn the volume down.

RIYL: FIDLAR, together PANGEA, The Sex Pistols, Bad Religion, NOFX, Black Flag

Noise du Jour: Jason Cruz and Howl


Welcome to “Noise du Jour,” a new weekly segment here at Critical Noise. Every week, we will feature either an emerging/under-the-radar artist/band, OR a new release from an established artist/band whose creativity continuously impacts the music community.


So without further adieu, let’s shift our attention to Jason Cruz and Howl. We were lucky enough to catch them last week at The Redwood Bar and Grill in DTLA.

Of course, we all know Mr. Cruz by way of Strung Out. I suppose after 24 years of punk rock, one has to find a way to mellow out a bit. With his new side project, Cruz ditches the metal riffs and mosh pits, and elects for a slower pace, particularly one fit for dancing and sing-alongs. In the process, he crafts a series of ballads, accompanied by engaging storylines, addictive melodies, and just the right amount of twang.

HowlAlongside Cruz is his supporting cast, “Howl,” comprised of Buddy Darling on (slide) guitar and vocals, Chris Stein on bass, and Kris Comeaux on drums. [Aside: last Wednesday, guitarist Chris Aiken (also of Strung Out) joined the fold, contributing to a great night of music and bad jokes]. Together, the band has created a new genre, dubbed “Loungecore” (which is also the title of the group’s 2013 debut EP), blending elements of americana, folk rock, blues, country, and punk.

Make sure to check out the debut LP, Good Man’s Ruin, out now on Echotone Records. That should tide you over until the new Strung Out record drops, which, by the way, is March 24.

Stream Good Man’s Ruin here.

Standout tracks: “Warsong,” “High and Lonesome,” “Reno,” “Edge of Barstow.”

RIYL: Strung Out, Joey Cape, Old Man Markley, Dave Hause, The Doors




What would you do if you won the lottery? You would have enough money to provide for yourself and your significant other, your children, and your children’s children.

Would you travel the world? Would you buy fancy cars? Would you lounge by the pool every day for the rest of your life? Would you run for office? Would you start a charity? Would you continue to live your life as you live it today? (Hint: The answer might be your true passion).

Why do we do the things we do?

A strategic management professor once told me that the art of strategy is all about making sound decisions. But what drives the decision-making process? Why choose A instead of B or C or D or none of the above? Is there a correct path towards achieving your end goal(s)?

Look at this way,

“Why would I spend seven dollars to see a movie that I could watch on TV?”

And furthermore,

“Why go to a fine restaurant, when you can just stick something in the microwave? Why go to the park and fly a kite, when you can just pop a pill?”

Everybody is the same, yet everybody is different. We choose different lifestyles, different jobs, and, on any given Sunday, we root for a particular football team. Crazy, eh?

So what do we know, really? Basically, we are human. We live for moments like this. Still, we are flawed. We learn from our mistakes. And, in the end, we seek redemption (P.S. spoiler alert!).

In an uncertain world, we carry on with our daily lives, because as humans, it is our core instinct to survive.

In the modern world, we are inundated with endless content because everyone wants his/her voice to be heard. Everything matters, but at the same time, nothing matters. But even nothing is something, right? How do you sort through the BS and find the good stuff?

Do you seek out word-of-mouth recommendations? Do you make decisions based on past experiences? Are you willing to take a risk and try something new? Are you in it for the long haul? Are you seeking immediate results? Do you do things to make others wish that they were doing the same thing as you?

Why do individuals spend upwards of $800 for VIP access at The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival? Similarly, why do the kids pay nearly $600 for VIP admission at the Las Vegas edition of Electric Daisy Carnival? (And, more importantly, when will the bass drop?)

Coachella is a three-day event, held on consecutive weekends in mid-April. Hundreds of acts, both living and deceased, descend upon the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California.

In addition to the live performances, there are a plethora of non-music related activities that one can engage in. As far as lodging goes, you have the option to camp out (in the traditional sense), or buy a luxury Safari Tent, or, play it safe, and rent a house near the fairgrounds. Meanwhile, you can sample food and craft brews from the hippest SoCal restaurant vendors, purchase collectibles from boutique vendors, or plan a romantic dinner in the Coachella Rose Garden.

But, how about the music? Are you familiar with the lineup? And what happens if two of your favorite bands/DJs are performing at the same time, on different stages? How do you decide whom to see?

EDC generates a similar phenomenon. I am not hip to the EDM culture; however, I have a pretty good sense of what goes down. Basically, it is a huge rave. People are dancing, drinking, and doing drugs in the company of friends. All. Night. Long. And when you are not at the fairgrounds, you are gambling, hanging by the hotel pool, or cruising the strip. Vegas, Baby! Vegas!.

I have not attended either festival, but I predict that the average attendee sees five (full) sets per day, roughly fifteen for the weekend. So, the alternative to attending either festival is seeing those fifteen acts on fifteen different occasions during the calendar year. Assume each act charges $35 for a club show (it could be more or less; let’s just consider this figure a mean average). That’s $525 in (alternative) ticket costs, which is considerably less than the $800 (baseline) VIP admission at Coachella, and slightly below the $600 VIP price tag at EDC.

However, the arbitrage in each scenario is irrelevant. Promoters will continue to raise the prices for such festivals because the opportunity cost of attending pales in comparison to the “fear of missing out”.

At the end of the day, festival attendees are buying an experience, so they can witness the excitement first-hand, and then tweet, post, ‘gram, and tumble about it to all their followers. In the digital age, you want followers. Followers attract clicks. Clicks attract advertisers. And advertisers translate clicks into dollar signs.

So, here we are. Social media has bred a new set of expectations (and insecurities). Our profiles (which might as well be our personal brands) are built upon our experiences. Experiences create stories. Stories generate content. Still, we wonder, who will like my post? Will anyone comment? Meanwhile, our LinkedIn page begins to resemble our OK Cupid profile. We are looking for perfect matches in the digital world, but unfortunately this is not attainable in reality.

In this overcrowded information age, we pose the question, what will it take for people to pay attention? How do you get people to buy your product, or download your app, or attend your band’s show? What sort of incentives do you need to offer?

To demonstrate, consider the growing trend of event discovery mobile apps. The major players in this niche are songkick, applauze, YPlan, Thrillcall, and WillCall (now part of Ticketfly).

These apps provide event promotion and allow the user to track his/her favorite artists while on tour. They can also be synched with other music platforms (i.e. Spotify) to track artists that the user is currently listening to. As an added bonus, the user has the opportunity to purchase last-minute tickets through the application. Typically, the company behind the app secures a nominal fee as a result of forwarding the user to the online ticketing vendor. So, in a perfect world, it is a one-stop shop for spontaneous event goers.

The problem is, is that these companies have yet to partner with the venues that bring in the top-tier artists. See, the top-tier acts sell out instantly. Meanwhile, you do not need to scramble to purchase last-minute tickets to see a baby band. You can show up at the door, no problem. And if you are a super fan, you probably do not use these apps. You are already tuned in via social networks, blogs, and word of mouth.

Generally speaking, these companies need to change their approach. We need comprehensive event listings. We need more product-related news, updates, and hyperlocal coverage. It’s 2014. As users, we need more incentives.

We need a loyalty rewards-type program, complemented by a set of membership tiers. Therefore, users that employ these apps more frequently than others would have the opportunity to purchase discounted tickets, or win tickets through registered giveaways. Think about the airline and hotel industries and such rewards programs. The key is exclusivity.

Or, maybe these companies should consider integrating alternative currency into their business models as a means to increase ticket sales and drive promotions.

Whether it is a live event or an app that points you to the live event, humans are always searching for added incentives. It is puzzling, though, because music is already marketed as a drug. We are selling a feeling, a state of mind. But, in some instances, the drug is not potent enough. We need our music paired with “some Morimoto ribs and…a nice glass of Napa cab.”

And, of course, humans love technology. Apps make things easier. But if they do not serve a purpose, if they do not generate results instantly, then why waste the time?

Certainly, our expectations, our lifestyles, and our need to survive influence our actions. But at the end of the day, “Money Changes Everything.”