Wrote this Sunday whilst recovering from prior evening’s show.

CHICAGO (7 Apr 2013) — Saturday night Modestep stopped by the House of Blues on their first North America headline tour. They played in Chicago last September at Union Park’s North Coast Music Festival. Their mix of hard, indie rock and dubstep was the perfect hangover cure as last summer’s final big, outdoor party Modestep @ Wellington Square (1/10/2012)  by Stuart Sevastos on Flickr [CC BY 2.0]before the winter. They have grown over the past 7 months, releasing their first studio album, Evolution Theory, earlier this year, and returned to shake Chicago’s Electronic Music scene out of its winter doldrums to get us ready for the epic electronic summer ahead.

Arrived at the show near the end of the first opener: Knuckle Children. They and Popeska the second one, each had fun, unique electro sounds that almost any other night in Chicago would be enough for me to fill my need for new noise … except that Modestep was playing next, so I kept my excitement and energy down, saving it for the headliner.

Modestep formed in London in 2010 around brothers Josh (pictured above) and Tony Friend along with drummer Matthew Curtis and guitarist Nick Tsangis. Josh is the lead singer who also does production and keys. Older brother Tony rocks a Guy Fawkes style mask that looks like it was dipped in radioactive acid and plays guitar in addition to his main role as DJ. For the show Saturday he donned a Chicago Bulls cap over on top of his mask and a Derrick Rose jersey, showing respect for the city (albeit this year it would of been better to don a jersey of a Bulls player whose actually played in 2012-13, but we will give the Londoner a pass and appreciate the gesture).

Roughly 30 to 40 minutes after Popeska left the stage Modestep began slowly adjusting instruments and making their way on stage. The feeling something great was about to happen was palpable, and the band did not disappoint.

Skipping the foreplay they immediately injected oterhworldly electronic sounds surely born in Hades directly into our eyeballs with “To the Stars.” We did not even have a chance to breathe as we were immediately jumping and fist pumping like we had never done it before in our lives.

Quickly afterwards they came with a remix of Prodigy’s “Smack My Bitch Up” that got everyone smacking themselves. It was the most I have really let myself go completely wild on a dance floor jumping and bashing into strangers as they pushed me back into where I was standing in turn. At one point I realized I’d been hitting a cute girl in red multiple times as I pointed with my arm to the heavens and it moved in a rhythmic fervor it’s never before experienced, completely outside my consciousness.

She was down, though, giving me a quick kiss on the cheek and telling me not to worry.

With Electronic Dance Music, or EDM’s, growth in popularity over the past 18 months everyone is now familiar with the traditional build and drop. The DJ picks a melange of sounds, plays them slow to draw the audience in, collects the energy, then unleashes, or drops, a much harder, louder and faster beat as everyone goes insane.

Think of the build up as shaking a coke bottle and the drop as unscrewing the cap and spewing liquid over your enemy.

Modestep puts a twist on this formula with the drummer, guitarist and lead singer. While most DJs build with a pre-recorded melody and sounds, Modestep does it live with Josh, Matthew and Nick. Tsangis shreds on the guitar violently like he’s in a Metal band, Curtis pounds on the drums while Josh croons in a high, but in no way weak or feminine, voice that draws you in. Later in the night as they covered Coldplay’s “Paradise” he sang a slow, personal interpretation of Chris Martin’s chorus. As we all drew our breath and relaxed Tony was making his way over to the DJ table (bounced between there and guitar all night). Once we are all comfortably enjoying a beautiful rock Tune, Josh yells “CHICAGO: BRACE FOR IMPACT!” and then Tony drops a beat that would shatter teeth in less hygienically minded cultures.

They worked through all the big songs including “Feel Good,” the new “Saved the World” and “Show Me A Sign.” As Josh demanded all of us throw our lighters in the air and we willfully followed, a pleasing mix of butane and ether rose above us taking our spirits as high as Josh’s range would allow (much more fun doing that song in the dark at House of Blues than the first time they did it during the day at North Coast).

Josh’s stage presence was ridiculous all night, commanding us to his will, including during the encore of “Sunlight” where he had us all get down to the floor. Hundreds of us crouched down waiting …

Modestep – Sunlight encore live at House of Blues Chicago 04/06/13
by Taylor Sagan on YouTube

for permission to jump just as Tony dropped the hammer’s fucking hammmer, and we leaped into a cacophony of elbows and emotion leaving nobody’s reality in tact.

Panting and sweating through my pink shirt I thought I had nothing left, but somehow I jumped and jived higher than I had all night for their final, triumphant exit.

Josh was speaking very kindly about the city all night. Calling Chicago something to the effect of his favorite fucking city and that he would love to live here. He thanked the city countless times during the show, including inviting all of us to come with them and get drunk after the show.

True to form, all 4 band mates came amongst the people afterwards, joining the staff in the merch shop/coat check room. Fans jostled for positing to get signatures and speak with the group. I was such a fan boy I actually bought a CD and got all 4 members to sign the disc, despite a personal policy of not asking celebrities for signatures.

From left to right: guitarist Nick Tsangis drinking; DJ Tony Friend in (barely visible) Bulls Hat; singer Josh Friend in Chicago’s Wild Onion Villains white t with back turned & drummer Matthew Curtis laughing.

Hung around a little later to offer to buy the band a shot, but by that point it was multiple, cute, scantily clad EDM female fans to each member and I wussed out, feeling they’d be more interested in the ladies.

It was the most unique Electronic show I have seen and following a couple years of Skrillex/Swedish House/David Guetta, mixing traditional rock and cutting edge dubstep, that I think is the “new” sound in pop Electronica, or at least it is the “now” sound.

Overall my friend Mike attending his first techno show said it best:

“They made Dubstep palatable.”

For anyone interested, they’re coming back to Chicago for Friday of Lolla. Cannot wait to have you back in the Chi gentleman.



Dream Team v. 2012 Team – A Battle Through Time

Over dinner with my Dad tonight we got to talking about whether or not the USA Dream Team would beat this year’s squad. Since Kobe said his 2012 crew would take down the old guys, Sir Charles has responded.

This is as absurd as trying to predict who will win an NBA Finals series before it begins, but the same methodology is useful: analyze matchups.

Taking into account the top 8 players of each squad (in a game like this it’s likely each team would only be able to play their top 8 preferring to keep MJ or LeBron on the floor the whole time [like the Heat did in this year's Finals]), here’s how they stack-up:

Mathcups (projected winner in bold):

LeBron vs. MJ

Durant v. Pippen

Kobe v. Johnson, Drexler or Bird

Paul/Williams v. Stockton

Chandler v. Ewing/Robinson

Griffin/Anthony v. Barkely/Malone



Chillin w/Chili & Chi CityChicagolandians

Went with Skirving today 2 a sensational Chili Cook-off; easily the best possible way I could’ve spent my Sunday afternoon following another Olive evening.

There were 7ish teams including Chef Matt and his Tardy Assistant (moi) entered as The Uncertainty Principle with a self-titled debut Chili.

Skirving killed it with 5 meats and a signature “Kick at the end.”

Please comment/like this post on Facebook and do what else you will what it as specified below. I am experimenting with a Public Domain Footer for my 2012 works, this is a re-mix of 1 I made in 2011 for the danoff dot org index. What do you think? @danoff @mrd 

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Copy Me

Please Kopimi, that is share and remix, this webpage.


"postcardbackinfo12" Courtesy of Chicago Zine Fest

The Official Chicago ZIne Fest Postcard Schedule. Image courtesy of Chicago Zine Fest

Starting this morning through dusk, Matt was kind enough to work with me at The Uncertainty Principle Table (#74a) at Chicago Zine Fest 2012. Together we watched hundreds of folks gather and shuffle by our table.

Zines-fromlondonsymp07 CCASA by Mcld

Zines are usually independently published print collections of prose, poetry, comics. Zines-fromlondonsymp07 by Mcld CCASA licensed and taken from the Zine Making Wikibook.

It would’ve been nice if even 1 of them stopped by to say hi …

jk. A good number of people stopped by, including a few folks who bought copies. More people paused to peruse an issue or two and more than that slowed before neither buying anything, nor reading a “zine drive-by” if you will.

Fun questions included:

  • So what is this about?
    • The Uncertainty Principle is a bi-monthly collection of creations on 1 topic: Women, Maths and Popcorn for example (I’d be pointing at the copies on the table as I was talking). To celebrate each issue we have a release party where Matt spins, we have more live acts, I do a reading and …
  • What are the CD’s
    • I’d naturally let our Resident Disc Jockey field those questions, we had his Cross Words and Live Hegemony CD’s on display, plus gave out free copies of “Uncertainty Principle Demo”.
  • What is its connection to The Uncertainty Principle?
    • I am not a physicist, but from what I know The Uncertainty Principle deals with objects being disparate and also having meaning together for brief periods of time and The UP has authors coming together around one topic, but taking it in their own direction.

Attendees, Zinesters (people who make zines and exhibiting them at a table), Staff (Leslie answered questions very helpfully & knowledgeably for me both online and at the event, now that’s customer service!) and Volunteers alike were all really friendly. I had no idea Chicagoland had so many zine publishers and that people would travel solely for a Zine Fest. Gentleman to my left, Tom of Zombie Soy Bot, had traveled from Pittsburgh and another group of female zinesters came up from Kentucky. I came away digging the culture and looking forward to a future zine event; look out Milwaukee!


Beginning of Broadcast Bar

Went to the eGen.TV Season Launch tonight @ Broadcast Bar. Production Manager Ben Piskor was kind enough to invite me. I met Ben through my work reffing plus he attended (& shot video @) The Uncertainty Principle‘s Petite Soirée № 5.

I’m just a fan, but my take on the Concept is:

Late night TV show (e.g. Conan/Letterman/Carson) streamed live from a Chicago bar, with an audience of whoever walks in.

I’m biased because I like Ben, but I think it seems pretty frigging cool and I’m not sure why it hasn’t been done before. Went with Matt to tonight’s premiere and we watched as the show unfolded featuring star guest Hal Sparks. It was surreal to watch it streaming on the flat screens, turn to see Mr. Sparks actually talking to the host, and then see people looking up who Hal was on Wikipedia via their smart phones (and the sophisticated among them hopefully tweeting/denting as well) simultaneously.


If you liked this post, please peruse my other work on danoff dot org, learn in my Teaching Laboratory and buy my book. If you have ideas about what you read please leave them in the comments, tweet them to @danoff or  e-mail them to Thanks for reading and in advance for your correspondence.

Note the eGen TV logo is their property. The text of this post is Copyright (C) 2012 by Charles Jeffrey Danoff licensed with a Creative Commons Attribution 2.1 Japan license. I, Charlie, give you permission to republish, remix, kopimi, make millions off, or do anything else you’d like this work without permission as long as you attribute me and state the license.

Economics and Basketball done right

I’ve been an NBA fan since my childhood following the Bulls dynasty, and started studying Economics at Colgate in 2003. In 2007 I found a way to connect the two, making an independent study on “Determinants of Success in the NBA” my last semester of school. I wrote a short paper, but unfortunately did not finish my research.

Post-graduation I have submitted to two conferences on sports statistics, each of which has turned me down on the fair grounds that its not clear I’ve finished my research. Recently I have been taking notes about my big curiosity, “How to build an NBA dynasty” but have yet to make it into a formal research paper.

These ideas have been on my mind lately, because I am thinking about submitting work for the next Sloan Sports conference in March 2012. The internet gave me a helpful push on how linking basketball and econ can be done well (albeit not academically) via Malcolm Gladwell‘s first piece for Grantland “‘Psychic Benefits’ and the NBA Lockout“. I particularly like how he takes current economic theory and writes in a way that’s accessible to everyone.

In a recent academic paper, the economist Jonathan Lanning has also shown that almost without exception integration in the 1940s and 1950s had an immediate and significant positive impact on a team’s attendance — even in cities where you might not think the fan base would be enthusiastic. Lanning calculates, in fact, that almost no team in baseball had as much to gain financially from bringing in black players as the Red Sox, particularly since they were losing money in the 1940s. Yawkey’s bigotry left millions of dollars on the table.

blogging about not blogging

Been a bit since I’ve posted around here. Was feeling guilty about it, then I saw that one of my inspirations, Joi Ito, hasn’t been blogging either. He does share a helpful reason to start again:

as the years of not blogging have started to pile up, more and more of my thoughts are no longer online. Back in the day, I blogged nearly everything so giving someone my perspective on any topic required only that I copy/paste a URL into a chat window or an email. …  As I begin what is might be the biggest transition in my life in my new role as the Director of the MIT Media Lab, it seems like my blog would be a good place to document my thoughts through this transition.

He then links to an older post with blogging advice whose first tip is right up my alley. “1 – You’re probably stupid”

As I continue the exciting transition in my own life sharing more thoughts here would probably be wise.


20:46 on 14 July 2011
UP-N to Chicago

Had my 7th lesson at the Korean Cultural Center of Chicago, or KCCoC this morning. Worked our way through formal and informal telephone English again. Below is a video of the 5th lesson to give you more context about how we work. If you can’t see the video, click here to watch.

If you have any ideas to improve the lesson, please leave them in the comments or e-mail them to … We’re going to talk about formal + informal telephone English again next week, so if you have any ideas for example conversations, please share them.


21:58 on 13 July 2011 in Winnetka

On the note of what I was writing about yesterday, watched a documentary with Mom n’ Pop tonight about Vidal Sassoon.

Turns out it took him 9 years of study on his own to develop the geometrical skills necessary for the revolutionary 5-point cut.

Have a lot more nights at the desk if I’m going to get my businesses and writing to the place I want.


Vidall Sassoon Behind The Scenes, by Vasilios Sfinarolakis from the Wikimedia Commons. 2010. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported licensed. It’s an image of “Recording tracks for the Vidal Sassoon Documentary with music supervisor David Spelman and Director Craig Tieper.”

Vidall Sassoon Behind The Scenes