The Show Must Go On Vol. 03: gARTh is ART

Garth Johnson, otherwise known as gARTh is ART, is a bedroom pop artist, singer, dancer and badass SoulCycle instructor. Garth hosts weekly virtual dance parties on Twitch and recently released a single called “Meet Me Online”. Check out our interview with him below!

MM: Tell me a little about your background. What was it like for you growing up, and what made you want to become a musician?

G: I grew up in a really small town of 1,200 people. I was always dancing, singing, and putting on shows for my family and stuff, like most kids! As I grew older, I kept dancing and that really became my main focus. I attended the Chicago Academy for the Arts and progressed on to New York’s The Juilliard School and graduated in 2013. I’ve always had a strong relationship to music and dance, so I guess it just feels like a natural way to express myself.

MM: So I really want to get an idea of your creative process. You write, sing, dance, and teach at SoulCycle. How do you tie all these pieces together (and manage them all, really)? 

G: Wow… yeah when you write it out like this it seems like a lot, but honestly I think they all support each other really well, and sort of embed themselves into one another! As far as music making, I write, sing, record, and produce all of my own work, from the beats and music to vocals and production. I love being able to get into a room and do that completely on my own, because to me it’s like a therapy.

MM: Your stage name, gARTh is ART, has some awesome word play. What made you land on this name, and what were some of your other contenders?

G: Thank you! Well, from a visual sense the word ART is in my name, and I like to think of myself as a multi-faceted artist, seeing as how I don’t just do one thing. Also, in 2013 when I was thinking of “stage/artist names”, I really loved how if you said gARTh is ART really fast it sounded like a dinosaur.

MM: You have such a positive energy in all the mediums you create in, especially SoulCycle. How do you maintain that attitude in the face of negativity or rejection?

G: Gosh! I love that I seem so positive and it’s not always easy to see the good in things, however, I’m a glass half full kind of guy, and I like to keep things simple, so to remain positive in my life I just keep doing things that make me feel good, honest, and inspired. 

MM: What else inspires/has inspired you?

G: Hmmm, so much! But I would have to say, currently I am inspired by film, and the accessibility to create content no matter who you are. Basically the idea of turning your own life into works of art. Essentially that’s what I am always practicing. How do I take things from my own life and represent them in an artistic sense. Or how do I digest the world and life and then give back something that will make me feel good about walking on this earth.

MM: If you could be featured in any artist’s song, who would it be and why?

G: Wow. I have so many people I would absolutely love to collaborate with, and I have to name them all because they’re all so unique and different. Firstly, Chelsea Cutler would be a dream, and she is my favorite artist, because I love everything she’s put out. Billie Eilish and FINEAS, because I really like the way in which they create their music. Their process seems similar to mine, from the clips I’ve seen on YouTube, so I think that would be really organic and cool to be in the room with them. Charli XCX because I’ve always admired her hustling multi talented entrepreneurial sense, and I really think she has pushed POP music into a new direction. I would love to also work with Jack Antonoff as a producer, because I think he is really good at truly collaborating with the artist, and not just throwing his sound on top of an artists. And lastly, I would love to work with this artist from LA named Dijon. His sound is unlike anything I’ve heard, and I love his genre-blending and artistic take on meaningful lyricism. 

MM: What can we expect in the future from gARTh is ART?

G: MUSIC. MORE. MUSIC. MUSIC MUSIC MUSIC. 2020 is about production / creation. Although I have no timeline for when things will be released and when…. I can assure you they’re being made, and good things take time!

MM: Where can we find your music?

G: On most streaming platforms! Just search for gARTh is ART

Bestfriend: Separated but Together

Bestfriend is a Canadian Indie-Pop duo who met on Instagram. Members of this group include Stacy Kim and Kaelan Lupton, who just so happen to live on opposite sides of the country. On this second volume of The Show Must Go On series, Upswing’s founder Marla Milano interviews Kim and discusses how the duo has worked remotely, their future plans and more.

MM: How long have each of you been making music, and what about your individual styles do you think blend well together?

SK: I’ve been making music for around 6 years now, and Kaelan’s been making music since early high school — so probably around a decade for him. I think we both find that we have aspects of our individual tastes in music and our songwriting styles that compliment each other really well. We’re both perfectionists, which is about as inconvenient as it sounds, but I think our biggest strength as a duo is that we’re not afraid to yell our bad ideas at each other until we have good ideas. We’ve made some songs together that we both absolutely hate, looked at it, shrugged, and then just moved on to the next.

MM: Tell me a little about how you guys met. For a little context, Stacy lives in Vancouver and Kaelan Toronto. 

SK: We sort-of met through a mutual friend a really long time ago, over the Internet, as you do. I followed him on Instagram and Twitter through this mutual friend because I thought he seemed like a pretty funny and cool guy. We didn’t really speak much, it was just your average “let’s like each others’ Instagram posts and tweets but not interact” acquaintance-ship, and it wasn’t until I think – almost two years ago now? – that the mutual friend invited me to grab a drink with the two of them while he was visiting his other friend in Vancouver. A couple weeks after, I posted a video of my new AKAI MPK keyboard. He asked what DAW I use, what I’m working on, and that culminated into a conversation about making music in general — I’d been working on a really bare-bones cover of Phoebe Bridgers’ Smoke Signals, and I sent the Logic file over to him, he added to it, we loved it and worked really well together — and voila, a band was born.

What’s it like to collaborate remotely?

SK: Collaborating remotely is a pretty huge learning curve to take, which I think applies to pretty much everything. It was a lot of trial and error, a lot of trying to figure out what, exactly, was the best way to collaborate. I would honestly say that it took us about half a year to fully master it, if we’ve even mastered it at all. We’ve got distance and time zone differences working against us. There was a bit of a running joke for a while that we’ve now outgrown at this point, but Kaelan and I were never excited at the same time about music. Like, as an example, Kaelan would be yelling at me and blowing my phone up and I’d wake up it would be 7AM my time, so I’m half asleep and grumpy, but it’s 10AM and he’s a freak who enjoys being productive in the mornings. Vice versa for me, but it’d be 10PM my time and 1AM his time.

MM: Do you ever get the chance to meet in person?

SK: We do get the chance to meet in person when our wallets and schedules permit. We’ve met three times now in person, two times in Vancouver, once in Los Angeles.

MM: Both of you are well-versed in online tools like Slack. What other software do you like to use to produce music? 

SK: We both use Logic Pro X, lots of plug-ins, Google Drive, Dropbox and a ridiculous number of Zoom sessions to write music together.

MM: You’re clearly used to working remotely, but social distancing has more than likely had some sort of impact on your creative processes. What has that been like for each of you? In what ways, if any, have you had to adapt?

SK: To be totally honest with you, and I’m definitely speaking from a place of privilege here, but social distancing has had way more of a positive impact than not for us. I work a full-time job currently and he’s generally quite busy with school and a thousand other non-related projects. So on a normal day, we’re both pretty occupied, then we’ve got our social lives / other hobbies that take up a lot of the last few hours of the day. Now, with all of this happening, Kaelan’s not in school, I’m working from home, and neither of us have a social life right now (at least not one where we have to leave our houses to do things), which means we both have more hours than ever to just hustle and work on music. 

MM: Do you see a trend of musicians continuing to collaborate remotely even after our stay at home orders are lifted? 

SK: Yeah, absolutely. It’s been so, so cool seeing musicians we know use this time to connect with other people, whether it’s via Instagram Live chats or just remote sessions in general. I think people are really starting to embrace collaborating remotely, and it’s such a convenient way to do things that I can definitely see it continuing past all of this. 

MM: What’s your favorite song you’ve released together and why?

SK: We have not yet released our favourite song we’ve ever written, but after saying that I think that’s a bit of a cheat answer. We’ve got three original songs out right now. For me so far, personally, it’s Television ’99. It was this super spacey, stripped back song for the longest time that Kaelan had written, only the first half of it existed really, and I eventually convinced him to add that “drop” that happens around the 1:30 mark. I would say that right now, it’s the best representation of our general theme as a band, the idea of childhood, memories, all of that fun stuff. Also, I like cool drops.

MM: Who inspires you? 

SK: Literally anyone we have worked with so far, but if we’re talking in a more abstract sense, I’ve found inspiration in a lot of alt-pop and pop artists; Bleachers, Lorde, Lauv, Clairo, Dua Lipa, Troye Sivan, the 1975. All that good stuff. They’re all so good at finding such a solid place in such specific but all-encompassing themes in their production and songwriting. For songwriting specifically, I’ve been listening to a lot of Slaughter Beach, Dog (that’s one band name), Ryan Beatty, Big Thief, Local Natives and Rex Orange County. 

MM: When it comes to making music, what’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

SK: Oh man. Hands down, it’s to make ugly things. I think creatives (read: me, I’m creatives) spend a lot of time trying to make whatever they’re making look perfect because of some weird preconceived notion of perfection. It stopped me from writing anything or making anything for the longest time, and I still have a lot of trouble grasping it, but the realization that I’m allowed to make and write ugly and bad songs was super empowering for me. 

MM: What are your plans after social distancing becomes a thing of the past?

SK: I am going to hug my friends VERY hard. As for music, Kaelan had a trip here planned for us to have some writing and recording sessions, but we booked that back when we were still naively optimistic about the state of the world and COVID-19. Once this is all over, I think we’re going to meet up in Toronto, hole up somewhere and write. We’ve got a release that I am not allowed to tell much about yet coming up in June, so for now, we’ll be working hard towards that.

Liked what you read? What about any artist recommendations? Comment below or shoot us an email!

15 Questions with Vancouver actor and musician Josh Bogert

Josh Bogert is more than just a voice. At 19 years old, Josh has mastered his career as a vocalist, producer and sound engineer. To get a closer look into his early days and what he’s up to now, guest contributor Marla Milano, founder of Chicago-based music discovery platform, Upswing, played a game of 15 questions with Bogert.
Check out what he has to say below!

15 Tell me a little about your background. What was it like for you growing up, and what made you want to become a musician?

My parents always had a love for music, so they put my older brother and I in classical violin lessons when I was 4 years old. Music has just been a part of my life forever and I gradually picked up more and more instruments throughout my childhood along with singing, songwriting, and music production. I tried all sorts of other activities including sports and dance but I obviously was drawn to music. My parents were incredibly supportive of my musical journey as I grew up, and still are to this day.

14 If you could be featured in any artist’s song, who’s would it be and why?

It’s so hard to pick one artist, as I have so many influences and my favorite songs are constantly changing. Recently, I’ve been really amazed by SHY Martin; her songs are incredible and I’d love to collaborate with her. I’ve always wanted to feature on an Illenium track, I think his production has the highest quality in the melodic dance music industry today.

13 What is your idea of success as a musician?

I believe success is synonymous with happiness. I have some big goals, but I think the journey to those goals is where I find joy. I feel as long as I’m happy working away and making music, that’s what success looks like to me.

12 How have you been keeping busy with social distancing? Do you feel you’ve had more time to interact with your fans?

I’ve definitely had more time on the internet interacting through social media. Mostly, I’ve been in the studio focused on writing new songs and producing the next round of releases.

11 Can you talk about the creative process for your latest album?

Most of these songs were written across several writing trips to Toronto, as I have friends there who I love to co-write with. Once I had the songs, I took them home to my studio in Vancouver and recorded, produced, mixed, and mastered them on my own. Once the song is structured out, it’s really just spending hours and days going over the songs with a critical ear, making little adjustments until they all add up to make the song sound finished.

10 What would you say was your biggest lesson from when you first started making music? How has that lesson influenced your creative process today?

Story is the most important thing. I learned very young that good songs have a purpose for every word and every note. I keep this in mind when I’m writing, as well as my production. Every element of the song has to be motivated. If an instrument is just there for the sake of adding something, it becomes distracting, so every layer serves an actual purpose that has been thought out.

9 What’s one of the funniest things that’s ever happened to you while touring?

On a Canadian tour in 2016, we had travelled by plane to all our western venues, but once we got to the eastern provinces we began travelling in a tour bus. I was sleep deprived from late shows and early flights, so the first night on the bus I slept for 13 hours straight. I woke up at 1pm, no one else on the bus, and the driver was about to leave the venue to take the bus for maintenance. I panicked and grabbed all my stuff and rushed into the venue! It was a good thing my soundcheck didn’t start until 3:00.

8 What is the biggest takeaway you want your fans to gain from your music?

One of the things I love most about music is that everyone can relate to a song in a different way, depending on the situations in their lives and their perspective. My hope is that a person will gain some more understanding of a situation in his/her life through one of my songs.

7 You sing, act, produce and so much more. That’s a lot. Do you have trouble unplugging? What do you do to wind down?

Absolutely. One of the best ways I’ve found to help me unplug is CrossFit. I’ve been going to a CrossFit gym for about 4 years now, and I love it. If I feel stressed or overwhelmed, all I need is to lift some heavy weights and I feel so much better.

6 It’s been said how you do one thing is how you do everything. How would you say what you do outside of making music plays into what your work ethic when you are?

I definitely find the areas of my life outside of music contribute greatly to my motivation and creativity. It’s been difficult with the gym closed, and not being able to go out and socialize because of COVID 19, to keep my motivation up. That being said, I’ve been writing and working on some new songs during these times that I’m really excited about.

5 You’ve done a great job at blending genres, which is a lot harder than it looks. What has that process been like for you, and what are your thoughts about the trend of the lines continuing to blur between genres as a whole?

Electronic Dance Music has been a great example for genre blending for years. The one thing I find EDM misses is the focus on writing a good song that stands on its own before the production. Being a singer/songwriter as well as a producer has allowed me to focus on blending the high quality songwriting of pop and songwriter music, with the intricate production techniques of melodic bass and dance music. I think blurring the line between genres is how artists stand out in today’s industry, and it eventually leads to entirely new genres being created.

4 What advice would you give to someone who wants to start making music and is just starting out?

Practice is the most important part, so get started right away and put in the time to learn as much as you can about the aspects of music that you’re interested in.

3 What are some of your favorite things to do in Vancouver?

I just really love being in the city! Whether it’s shopping, dining, or just hanging out downtown with friends, I’ve always felt Vancouver is a great place to be. I also love hiking, and the mountains up in Squamish and Whistler have some incredible hiking trails!

2 Where do you see your music going from here?

My intention is to keep improving. I’m really proud of what I accomplished with this most recent release, and I intend to keep learning and growing as an artist. I’m definitely expanding to more collaborations in the near future, and I have releases coming up with some incredible artists, so that’s something to keep an eye out for!

1 What are some of your long-term goals?

Some of my long-term goals are a headlining a tour of my own, and/or opening for a bigger artist on his/her tour, as well as continuing to develop my own sound and collaborating with other artists. Music is my passion, so I know this is going to be a long journey for me, and I’m excited to see where it takes me!

About Upswing

A Chicago-based music discovery platform, Upswing connects live music fans to their new favorite artists. Whether you’re looking for a local show in your own city or traveling somewhere new, our website allows you to discover and review artists by genre as well as show you where they’re playing.

The Show Must Go On Vol. 01: Sydney Ranee’

Sydney Ranee’ is a powerhouse R&B singer, songwriter and producer with a stage presence you won’t forget. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Sydney’s dynamic voice has drawn in fans everywhere from the Melrose Trading Post to Italy, Greece and Singapore. Her music is influenced by artists such as Prince, Sting, Stevie Wonder and Jill Scott, but her sound and lyricism are far from unoriginal.

MM: Tell me a little about your background. What was it like for you growing up, and what made you want to become a musician?

SR: Well I was born and raised in Los Angeles. One of the music capitals of the world. It was hard not to be swarmed into some type of art. My family said I always had music in my blood and before I started talking I was singing. So I guess it was always meant to be. From an early age my mom enrolled me in music schools. This is where I truly discovered myself as an artist and a musician. I’ve been doing music for over 20 years and it’s been a crazy ride full of ups and downs but I’m completely in love with music and I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.

MM: If you could be featured in any artist’s song, who would it be and why?

SR: This is seriously a hard question. There are so many artists I admire and for completely different reasons. Some are no longer with us. I guess if I had to choose a living artist it would be either Stevie Wonder simply because he is the greatest songwriter of all time or Pharrell. Pharrell’s pen game is ridiculous and he’s a phenomenal producer as well.

MM: Can you describe some of the projects you were working on before the stay at home order?

SR: I’ve been recording so much new material haha. We are less than a month in and I already have an album worth of music ready to go. I’ve used this time to really focus on the music that inspired me throughout my career. A lot of these songs are pulling inspiration from the bright synths from  80’s Pop as well as the sultry sounds of 90’s R&B but I still put a modern twist and my own spin on it. I seriously cannot wait to preview these once their mixed and everything.

MM: What are your thoughts on how musicians are utilizing their time now? What would you change, if anything?

SR: Well I can’t really speak on how well other musicians are utilizing their time because it’s their art and it’s not really my position to judge how they create/display it. I will say that if we could collectively cool it on the “IG Live” that would be great hahaha. My instagram is going off like crazy from all of these lives. On another note I’ve been seeing musician’s get together virtually and create projects and I absolutely love seeing this. I would love to see more of it!

MM: How else do you think the entertainment industry is going to adapt in the wake of COVID-19?

SR: It’s going to take us awhile to get back to the normal schedule. I get a lot of my income from playing at bars and at weddings. I’m pretty sure it will be awhile before some of these venues have the funds to support live music again. 

MM: What is something positive you’ve seen come out of this situation?

SR: I spoke earlier about how the entertainment industry would adapt to the aftermath of Covid-19 but I didn’t touch on how much creativity and rare collaborations that have been happening since the start of the lockdown. So many people are able to sit back and create without worrying about deadlines or other distractions. Myself included. I’ve got a chance to really sit down with my music and I’ve learned so much about myself as an artist doing that.

The Show Must Go On

Are you a music lover who’s been to countless live shows? How about an up-and-coming artist who wants to get their name out there?

Well, either way, you’ve come to the right place.

Upswing is a music discovery platform that connects live music fans to their new favorite artists, and our mission is to help up-and-coming musicians get the recognition they deserve. With the music industry taking a huge hit in the wake of COVID-19, we will be featuring artists here on Medium as well as on our Instagram and website. Whether you’re looking to discover new musicians from your hometown or somewhere new, Upswing allows you to discover and review artists by genre as well as show you where they’re playing.

We know it’s just as hard for the fans at home who can no longer go to the shows they love. That’s why we want to be a helping hand in a lot of great things that are already happening online. More than ever, musicians are utilizing streaming services like Instagram Live, YouTube and Twitch to stay engaged with their fans. There have even been virtual music festivals like Digital Mirage that have over $300,000 for Sweet Relief Musicians Fund

We have some great interviews lined up that we hope you’ll enjoy too!

About the Founder

Upswing was founded by Marla Milano. Marla is a marketing specialist who initially recognized the power of social media when she moved to Chicago in 2012. She utilized music-centric Facebook groups to build relationships before moving from Cleveland when she was just 19 years old. 

During her time in Chicago, Marla received both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from DePaul University and is involved in local organizations such as 1871 and Creative Women’s Co. She also spent some time in Los Angeles where she assisted in entertainment marketing initiatives for companies like Electric Family and Ride or Cry. And yes, she still talks to the people she met in that Facebook group to this day.

Are Music Festivals Helping or Hurting Our Planet?

As music festivals continue to grow in size and popularity, one might question whether the awareness these festivals raise around sustainability practices outweighs the carbon footprint they leave behind:

Larger festivals like Coachella, Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza attract hundreds of thousands of attendees each year — and they’re only getting bigger. Coachella went from being two days to three, then from one weekend to two since 2012; and Lollapalooza became a four day festival just two years ago. Bonnaroo, on the other hand, has always been a four day festival.

Below are the number of attendees of each festival in 2017:

Coachella: 750,000 (125,000 per day)

Bonnaroo: 240,000 (60,000 per day)

Lollapalooza: 400,000 (100,000 per day)

. . .

Are these larger numbers raising more environmental awareness or simply backtracking our efforts to achieve a greener planet? With air and vehicle transportation leaving some of the largest amounts of carbon emissions, it’s questionable whether the efforts domestic and international fans make to see their favorite artists is worth the environmental impact.

If you’re flying to Coachella from New York, for example, it’s estimated that you will generate roughly 20% of the greenhouse gases your car emits in one year according to the New York Times. Now, consider all the people who fly to Coachella and festivals alike domestically and internationally.

Are the sustainability efforts these bigger music festivals put into place enough? While this is an area that’s still being researched, Coachella, Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo all have noteworthy sustainability practices.

. . .

Coachella partnered with Global Inheritance in 2002, and has implemented fun activities such as Carpoolchella, Art of Recycling and the Oasis Water Bar. Each aspect of this partnership not only creates a sense of mindfulness around Coachella’s fan base, but incentivizes them with cool prizes like VIP for life.


Bonnaroo is also a large player in the festival industry’s sustainability efforts. Planet Roo provides a variety of educational programs, nonprofits and recycling efforts right on Bonnaroo’s campgrounds. Lollapalooza, on the other hand, partners with after school programs where volunteers can specialize in urban sustainability efforts.


How are you reducing your carbon footprint at music festivals? Next time you consider that weekend getaway, be sure to consider how to help clean up the mess you leave behind.

Electric Family: Apparel With a Purpose

Electric Family has formed apparel partnerships with some of the biggest names in EDM since 2012. Thanks to their loyal fan base, EF now collaborates with DJs like Skrillex, Kygo, Illenium, Louis the Child and many others.

With the help of these DJs, Electric Family has raised over $350,000 for charities around the world. Their new clothing line is not only Coachella ready, but supports well-known charities such as Global Rights, Make A Wish, Doctors Without Borders, and F*ck Cancer.


I had the opportunity to chat with Electric Family’s co-founders, Steve Brew and Drew Nilon. Electric Family truly started from the ground up with the goal to make a difference:

MM: How would you explain Electric Family to someone who’s never heard of the company?

SB: “I would tell them that we are a streetwear brand that partners with musicians and influencers in music to not only raise money for a good cause, but the apparel and accessories we sell are meant to have a positive impact on everyone who comes in contact with them. Our slogan has always been “Distributing Positivity since 2012.”

MM: What about Electric Family motivates you to come to work every day?

SB: The fact that we have the opportunity to work with world class musicians to make a difference for a positive global impact. We also throw local events in LA to get our fans involved in different charitable acts.

This January, EF had a Do Good beach cleanup by Santa Monica Pier, where each attendee was guest-listed to a local concert (Photos by Marla Milano).

Inside Electric Family

MM: What is a fun/little-known fact about Electric Family?

DN: We really got started in my mom’s house and used her garage for our warehouse. We literally took over the entire garage until she said “that’s enough!” She politely said she wanted her garage back and we were forced to get our first office and we setup our first office in Santa Monica, CA.

MM: Any key takeaways you have from starting your own company?

DN: Never, EVER give up. Believe in yourself. There will be good days and bad days, but as long as you stay focused on delivering your message, you will end up happy because you are always staying true to your goals.

The Fans

Drew and Steve’s philosophies clearly worked. Electric Family maintains their fan base not only though their mission but affordable clothing. The average price of popular streetwear ranges from $400-$3000 according to StockX, while Electric Family’s apparel sells anywhere from $15-$110.

Pictured above is one of Electric Family’s most loyal fans, Connor Simon. Connor owns every EF bracelet ever created, each representing a different collaboration and charity donated to.
Much like the fan base of the electronic music scene at large, Electric Family is represented just about anywhere you can think of!

Stay in the Loop

What looks will you be rocking this year? Lucky for you, Electric Family just dropped their best collection yet for both men and women.

Take a look at their latest apparel here, and be sure to keep your eyes peeled for a Do Good event near you!

Don’t Wait, Be Your Own Hero

Although meet and greets are a fun and often rewarding experience, they always come with a long, unpredictable wait time. The opportunity to meet entertainers who have been there for you during good times and bad is a once in a lifetime opportunity. An opportunity you don’t want to miss when given the chance, even if it means cutting into previously made plans.

If you’re heading to the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (C2E2) this weekend, you’re probably eager to meet the people you consider your heroes and share the memories you’ve had with them — even if those memories were just on a screen or comic strip. The connections you’ve made with these characters goes far beyond that, of course.

Well, much like a meet and greet, what you do to celebrate after the fact is built around an experience of sentimental value. And what better way to do so than getting a nice dinner with the people you went to the expo with? The people who are just as ecstatic as you are about meeting the kids from Stranger Things.

This situation sounds a bit too good to be true, doesn’t it? All the restaurants near C2E2 are going to be slammed. A lot of restaurants in the city these days don’t take reservations, either, so where does that leave you and your friends?

Instead of putting your name on a waitlist and hoping for the best, try being your own hero this weekend and head to a restaurant that uses NextME. You’ll know exactly what place in line you’re in, so you can head to that meet and greet all while making it back on time to get seated. Waiting at a meet and greet is a process in itself. Let NextME take care of the rest.

Know a restaurant that can use NextME’s wait list app? Let us know the restaurant on our referral page and we’ll pay you $50.00 cash if they sign up.

Happy Waiting!

Your Ultimate “H-anger” Cure this St. Patrick’s Day

You know, when you’re so hungry and angry at the same time that you can’t think straight.

Heading to Chicago next weekend for St. Patrick’s Day?

Yeah, so is everyone else.

It’s going to be absolute chaos, and I mean that in the best way possible. If you live in the city, you probably have friends coming in town. And, whether you’re a local or visiting, you probably couldn’t be more excited to run around the city with your friends like a bunch of drunk leprechauns. That is, until you’re insanely hungover the next day.

Whatever you did the day, or even night, before; you’re probably going to resort to desperate measures to cure your hangover — and you’re probably going to be hangry while doing so.

Maybe you want some greasy food, or maybe you just want to keep drinking. But, when it comes to the ultimate cure for your St. Patrick’s Day hangover, all arrows point to getting brunch. But, just like the chaos of the parade and Chicago Riverwalk, every brunch spot in the city is going to be slammed with long waits.

As an avid restaurant goer, I can say that the best brunch spots to go to on a busy weekend like St. Patrick’s Day are the ones where the host can text you a web link of your position in line using their wait list app. Not only do you not have to fight for a spot at the bar, but you’re able to explore the city until your table is ready and you receive that magical text notification (because, let’s face it, you’re probably going to be waiting at least an hour).

Having that “text-when-ready” option opens up endless possibilities of things to do while you try to distract yourself from the fact that you’re incredibly hangry. We all know how that is: It’s hard to focus on anything except for how hungry you are at that moment. Why add on unnecessary stress when you can explore the Riverwalk, visit nearby bars and more while you’re waiting to get seated?

Want to prevent a hangry dining experience? Share your hangover cure with your favorite restaurants and ask the hostess to NextME.

Your Friday Night Just Got Better

We’ve all been to a restaurant when it’s busy: The waits are long, and if you live in a city like Chicago, the waits are even longer.

Although Chicago doesn’t have a shortage of fantastic restaurants, everyone seems to know which ones are the best. For example, if someone wants deep dish, they’ll probably go to Lou Malnati’s. If they want a good burger, they’ll go to Kuma’s Corner.

(I may be a little biased because I work at Kuma’s Too, but that’s beside the point.)

This is the famous Kuma burger, and you probably got hungrier just looking at it.

Whether you’re in the industry or not, we all know what it’s like to be hangry. We trade an hour wait for the certainty of a delicious meal. Yet, knowing this, we’re always filled with an irrational mix of anxiety and rage until the host says that message from above — “Your table is ready!”

As a hostess myself, I’ve seen customers’ faces light up all too many times after giving them the good news. I’ve also experienced the looks of panic and subtle death stares when I tell people they have to wait 45 minutes to an hour to be seated. The servers constantly bringing out burgers, mac and cheese plates and wings that saturate the room with a delicious aroma of homemade buffalo sauce doesn’t help, either.

Lucky for me, working at Kuma’s has its perks: Between the friendly staff, delicious food, and awesome beer selection, I definitely haven’t had much to complain about. Plus, they have an awesome digital waitlist app called NextME that I use when the restaurant gets packed. It not only makes my life easier, but helps increase table turns and decrease hangry customers.

Since Kuma’s doesn’t take reservations, NextME does a great job at managing our walk-ins. All I have to do is enter the patron’s name and number into the digital wait list, and the app will send diners an automated text saying which spot in line they’re in using a web link. When it’s someone’s turn to be seated, I press a button that sends them another text telling them their table is ready. I don’t even have to tell my customers to download anything!

With NextME, I never have to worry about using pagers, taking notes on what patrons look like, or shouting names over people in a loud room. I have more time to help everyone who walks in, and the customers are seated faster. Everyone wins!

Want to learn more about NextME? Head to their website to see what it’s all about! And don’t forget to check out Kuma’s Corner to get your ultimate burger fix. Happy Waiting!