Our band played last weekend – twice – and I’d almost forgotten what it was like.

There are things they don’t tell you before you join a band. For one, you spend more time setting up and breaking down gear than actually performing. The post-gig ritual is the worst – wrapping up filthy cords, lugging speakers and amps through a parking lot, all while exhausted and often intoxicated. 

I don’t know what big bands pay roadies, but they deserve it.

The venue owners (and patrons) often treat you like serfs. This is particularly infuriating because we donate everything to charity. And my bandmates are all pretty big deals. 

Inevitably, I wake up the next morning with a massive, painful bruise on my thigh from a tambourine. That’s after a lousy night’s sleep when my ears won’t stop ringing. Also, I have zero vocal training, so I sound like Marge Simpson for two days after screaming over blaring guitars and drums for three hours. I’m wounded, half deaf, and half mute after every gig.  

And it’s the most fun I’ve ever had doing anything in my entire life, hands down. 

I’ve played all kinds of competitive sports. This is a bigger rush. I’ve driven fast cars. Not even close. Rocking out in front of a fired-up crowd is in a league of its own. Even playing for a near-empty bar, which we’ve done more times than I can count, is still better than just about anything else I can think of. 

Seventeen years into it, we definitely have a schtick – mostly ‘90s and alternative tunes, which I suppose are technically “oldies” at this point. We start every set with hard rock songs like Everything Zen by Bush, Cherub Rock by the Smashing Pumpkins, or Alive by Pearl Jam. 

Eventually, we transition to dance-inducing music. Our go-to gimmick is weaving in and out of mashed-up songs, like Wagon Wheel by Old Crow Medicine Show into So Lonely by the Police, or Fly by Sugar Ray into What I Got by Sublime, or Small Things by Blink-182 into Born to Run by Springsteen into Melt with You by Modern English.

At some point we’ll bring a bachelorette or birthday celebrant on stage to play tambourine for American Girl or cowbell for American Band. Yes, it’s as cheesy as it sounds.

And I love it more than anything not flesh and blood. 

You should come see us sometime. Shots of Jäger on me.

Here’s what we’re seeing:

Consumer confidence is slogging. Let’s hope this is just things bouncing along the ocean floor before climbing back to the top because economic sentiment is mired in the sand right now. Our latest reading is a mixed bag. Views on the housing market have improved slightly, as home prices seem to be stabilizing. People are feeling okay about their personal finances even as inflation fears persist. The continual sore spot is the outlook for the U.S. economy. The ongoing Delta surge heading into the cold weather season has people feeling pessimistic. It could be weeks before we see a material change in these numbers.

There are a lot of reasons to fear for the restaurant industry as fall approaches. We already know that indoor venues are the biggest breeding grounds for COVID, which puts restaurants at a big disadvantage, especially when it gets too cold to serve outside. Offices delaying their reopenings has been another kick in the teeth. Now, 1 in 5 consumers say they are going out to eat less because of poor or slow service resulting from staff shortages. The result is that – after trending the other direction for months – 41% of Americans say they are preparing more food at home than they usually do this time of year.

Usage of CBD products has climbed significantly since before the pandemic but satisfaction hasn’t. Thirty-five percent of U.S. adults have now at least tried CBD products, up from just 28% at the end of 2020. Another 15% say they are intent on trying it, meaning cannabinoids could hit 50% market penetration before it’s all said and done. Our data shows a strong correlation between CBD usage and stress – particularly COVID stress – which could explain the uptick. The bad news is that most of these new users have said they weren’t satisfied with the experience. And that could explain why people keep turning to stronger inebriants to manage their stress.

People are planning way ahead for the holidays this year. This strikes me as some of the most interesting data we uncovered this week. Forty percent of Americans say they are thinking about the holidays right now, up from 30% last August. People seem to be taking Year 2 of the pandemic in stride, making arrangements but staying prepared for changes. The good news for you retailers is that all these diligent planners also plan to spend way more this holiday season than they have in previous years. You better catch them before they spend it somewhere else.

Nearly 1 in 4 remote workers say they took on another side-job during the pandemic. I don’t know whether to be appalled or impressed by this. Sixteen percent of Americans say they worked an extra full-time or part-time job while also doing their normal job from home at some point since COVID started. That works out to 24% of all remote workers, not including the people who didn’t want to admit it. I barely have enough time to do my one job.

One thing people don’t want to do at home is take a COVID test. An overall lack of trust in their accuracy is holding back adoption of at-home COVID testing kits, with just 9% of Americans saying they’re very likely to use them. The advent of mandatory workplace vaccination or testing could shift this market, however. One in four U.S. workers say they would opt for at-home testing over the vaccine if they’re forced to choose.

Mark Zuckerberg wasn’t the only person who knew Instagram was harmful for young girls. Our data has been saying this for years. Not only are teen girls who regularly use Instagram much more likely to report being unhappy, they’re significantly more likely to say they are “less attractive” than other teen girls. If this is news to you, I’m sorry. 

We did a few other cool studies this week:

And, apparently, the only reason you read this, the most popular questions from this week:​​​​​​

Answer Key: Neither; Every Saturday morning like clockwork; Digital – thanks, Alexa; Way more empathetic than you, that’s for sure; Never; So far, neither, but I’m getting close. 

Hoping you’re well.



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