The PAper Kites’ Intimate performance at the House of Blues

Dimmed lighting, a cozy stage with make shift window blinds on stage right, soft spoken vocals, and an audience that seemed lost in a trance, The Paper Kites concert was more reminiscent of an intimate night at a cocktail lounge than that of a rock concert at the House of Blues. Even with the subtlety of the bands sound, their performance was far from that as the band managed to utilize their skills and create a space where concert goers could stand in silent bliss and just enjoy the actual music as opposed to having to fight sweaty, drunk individuals in a mosh pit. 

The Paper Kites opened with a couple of their lesser known songs before diving into “Deep Burn Blue,” a track from their most recent album. This resulted in an eruption of applause from the crowd who then settled down into a dreamy and contemplative silence for the remainder of the song as they absorbed the ethereal sounds being created by the band. 

The Paper Kites concert was a change of pace, as many concerts of today aim to be as energetic and adrenaline-ridden as possible. Attending a performance where the crowd was genuinely silent, not because the performance was bad (far from it), but rather because The Paper Kites are masters at creating a space where time stops and the only thing that matters is the music and calming the storms that often go on in our heads every day. It was a real treat and a show I recommend to anyone interested in more mellow music, that doesn’t sacrifice emotion or genuine talent.   

Written by: Alex Vasquez

Photos by: Alex Vasquez


Transviolet Inspires San Diego at their show at The Loft at UCSD

Transviolet by Samantha Kacz

Transviolet by Samantha Kacz

Transviolet by Samantha Kacz

Tillie by Samantha Kacz

I arrive at The Loft, the venue located on the second floor of what appears to be UCSD’s main cafeteria on campus. There’s already a line forming outside of the entrance. Attendees and their friends are laughing and talking about the details of their day, all energized for the show that was to come.

As I walk in, I am immediately in awe at how sophisticated and just plain adorable the small venue is. The lighting was dim, creating a comfortable and warm atmosphere, and small pieces of modern furniture which were perfect for lounging in, were sprinkled throughout the room. The room gradually filled as the well-anticipated show was about to begin.

The crowd was greeted by the opener, Tillie, accompanied by a recording of the classic theme song from the show Law and Order. To anyone that is a fan of the show (me), Tillie had already won them over with a great first impression. She carried out her show energetically by singing all her funky upbeat music including a cover of the classic, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, by Cyndi Lauper. The crowd was predominantly female so she lit up the faces of everyone in the room with that piece.

Just before singing, Hungover on a Feeling, she shared with us that it was written the day after President Donald Trump was elected in 2016. She explains that she woke up the day after the results came in and felt exactly like the title of that song. She then passionately urged the crowd to vote, because if we don’t, nobody else will. Tillie performed the rest of her released music with the utmost dedicated energy, occasionally picking up her electric guitar and jamming or jumping across the stage and dancing in the crowd with fans. This energetic performance was all accompanied by her drummer. The crowd screamed their goodbyes as she notified us that her set was over. I found myself smiling, knowing that she’d gained a lot more fans with that set, including myself.

It finally was time for Transviolet to make their way to the stage and the fans could sense it.  The lead singer, Sarah, was greeted by screams and was accompanied by her band members with extraordinary back lights which set the vibe for the rest of the night. As soon as the first song, “Night Vision,” started playing, the venue was transformed into a fun and jumpy outing that would fit perfectly in any coming-of-age indie film. The night progressed, and Sarah connected with her audience by making eye contact with every single fan in the first three rows of the crowd. She even stared into my soul for a solid minute while she sang and the band played “Bad Intentions.”

The talented singer put the show on hold, however, to share her encouragement for us to vote in the midterm elections. She knew that the crowd was filled with bold and intelligent college students who would have open minds and open hearts to take her words as inspiration to go the polls. After such a moving speech, Transviolet played a few more songs before she signed off with their last song, “Pretty Head.” The fans had no reason to be sad however, because both Tillie and Transviolet made themselves available to meet with everyone in the crowd at their merchandise table as soon as the show ended.

Without a doubt, the theme of the night was to be empowered. Everyone left The Loft that night with an inspired attitude towards politics, spread through the words of two smart and talented women. Transviolet and Tillie proved they can not only share their voice through heartfelt and confident lyrics, but also through empowering and inspiring speeches to take our country’s future into our own hands.

Written by: Samantha Kacz

Photos by: Samantha Kacz


Wolfmother's Psychedelic show at The Observatory North Park

Andrew Stockdale, the lead singer and guitarist of Wolfmother, told the crowd in the middle of his performance that when someone asked him the previous night what his Halloween costume was, he responded, tongue-in-cheek, “Carrot Top.” However, unlike the comedian Carrot Top, Wolfmother’s performance didn’t go stale after 10 minutes, but rather it continued building in energy until the climactic encore performance of their most famous song, “The Joker and the Thief.”

Wolfmother put on quite a show at the Observatory North Park on November 1st, and like the rock stars of the 1970s that Stockdale has drawn so much influence from, their performance was energetic and psychedelic enough to be worthy of a slot at Woodstock.

Furthermore, I noticed was the older demographics of the audience. Many fans appeared to be in their 50s and 60s, the same people who grew up listening to bands like Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, effectively giving Wolfmother a stamp of approval from the fans of the greats.

Looking at the crowd, it was obvious that the high octane music was fueling the fans, at one point resulting in a sizable mosh pit developing in the middle of the floor. 

 The strongest song of the night was their performance of the song “White Unicorn” which resulted not only in the massive mosh pit and half of the crowd head banging, but also included an over 2 minute break of psychedelic sounds flooded in reverb and delay coming mainly from Stockdale’s guitar.

Apart from the older hits, Wolfmother performed much of the music from Stockdale’s most recent album “Slipstream”with numbers such as the eponymous track and Lazy proving Stockdale and the rest of Wolfmother still has a lot energy left in them.

Written by: Alex Vasquez

Photos by: Alex Vasquez


The Paper Kites are Performing at The House of Blues San Diego

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Have you ever wanted to see indie-rock stars The Paper Kites live in concert? Well now you have an opportunity to do so! The Paper Kites will be performing on Wednesday, November 7th at the House of Blues in downtown San Diego, and there’s still some tickets available!

What started as a small folk-indie band from Melbourne, Australia, The Paper Kites have evolved to become multi-genre auteurs of music, blending atmospheric and haunting guitar with the calming, ethereal voices of vocalists Sam Bentley and Christina Lacy. Since forming in 2010, the band has released 2 EP’s and 4 studio albums, with their most recent project, On the Corner Where You Live having been released on September 21st, 2018.

 Off of the new album is the single “When It Hurts You” a melancholy love song illustrating a more new-wave oriented sound for the band while still maintaining the dreamy vocals and expansive guitars that brought them their success. In support of this album, The Paper Kites are making their way across dozens of cities in North America, so go spend your Wednesday night at the House of Blues with The Paper Kites!

When: November 7th

Where: House of Blues San Diego

Tickets : Here

Written by: Alex Vasquez


Kim Petras on The Bloom Tour at Cal Coast Open Air Theater

Photo by: Aya Nelson

Photo by: Aya Nelson

Lights flashed and a neon-like backdrop seemed to change colors showing off the name “Kim Petras” with every beat. As soon as Petras stepped out onto the stage her diva-esque voice immediately took over the venue and commanded the attention of everyone there.

The German Popstar started off with “All the Time,” a bubblegum pop song with a punch about wanting to spend all your time with someone special.

While people often assume that people buy concert tickets for the headliner, it was clear at this point after the first song that the audience had also bought their tickets to support Petras.


Her energy continued throughout her performance of songs like “Heart to Break,” her single which soared to #19 on Billboards Top 40, “Can’t Do Better,” and “Tell Me It’s A Nightmare” which is off of her newest release, a Halloween mixtape called Turn Off The Light, Vol. 1.

The crowd could not stop cheering or dancing throughout Petras’s set and many audience members knew every word to every song she performed. It was like being at one big dance party with all your closest friends.

Finally the cherry on top of the night was getting to meet Kim Petras in person and finding out that she is as lively as her music while still staying humble and down-to-earth. If you’ve never seen her live, I would definitely recommend going to one of her shows before she blows up since her career is undoubtedly going to skyrocket soon.

Written by: Andrea Hoffman

Photography by: Aya Nelson


Transviolet is playing The Loft this Friday Night

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The reinvented-pop band, Transviolet, is coming to San Diego on November 2nd at UCSD’s The Loft! It is expected that the band will play songs from their newly released EP Valley which reached the ears of the public on September 18th of this year.

After having opened recently for Dua Lipa last month, as well as bands like Twenty One Pilots and LANY in the past, Transviolet will be playing their hits in America’s finest city. The upcoming show follows two separate EP listening parties held previously in NY and LA, which makes San Diego lucky for being the city of choice for Transviolet’s next stop.

The new EP consists of 7 electro-pop songs including singles “Bad Intentions,” Small Victory” and “Undo” which all evoke a sense of confidence and a new found power in self-indulgence. Valley serves as their third EP, and is already earning all the deserved love by their fans. If you’re feeling insecure, down, or just need a relatable upbeat pop song to raise your spirits up, Transviolet is the band for you! Come down to The Loft at UCSD to hear for yourself!

When: Friday, November 2nd, 2018

Doors: 7:00pm

Show: 8:00pm

Where: The Loft at UC San Diego

Cost: $10

Get Tickets Here!



Written by: Samantha Kacz

Wolfmother is coming to San Diego!

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A band with a sound as epic as its name, Wolfmother is coming to San Diego to perform on November 1st and you have the chance to rock out with them!

Formed in the year 2000 by Andrew Stockdale, Chris Ross, and Myles Heskett in Sydney, Australia, Wolfmother has gone through multiple lineup changes, with lead guitarist/vocalist Stockdale being the only constant member. Wolfmother is known for their high energy performances and a raw, dynamic sound that is reminiscent of many hard rock bands such as Led Zeppelin, ACDC, and The White Stripes. By incorporating a more psychedelic flair into the otherwise high octane music, Wolfmother delivers a brand of rock that is sure to make your blood pump and your head spin.

Andrew Stockdale and the rest of the members of Wolfmother are currently on tour promoting Stockdale’s most recent musical effort, “Slipstream”. This 9 track album, released on September 14, 2018, is a follow up to Stockdale’s previous solo project “Keep Moving”. In addition to performing songs from Slipstream, Wolfmother will also be performing many songs from their previous albums Victorious, New Corwn, Cosmic Egg, and their eponymous debut album. 

Tickets are still available so come check out Wolfmother, 8pm on November 1st, 2018 at The Observatory in North Park!

Written by: Alexandro Vasquez

FIDLAR Performs at the Observatory North Park

The venue was already filled and buzzing with anticipation when I arrived to see FIDLAR at the Observatory North Park on their latest North American tour. Special guests Dilly Dally and The Side Eyes had done a great job of pumping up the crowd which meant that as soon as the main act came out, everyone would be ready to party. FIDLAR’s stage setup also added to the excitement which included a huge hand painted banner with the band’s name, along with an assortment of old television monitors lit up with more FIDLAR art.


As soon as the band came out, it was a never ending flow of electric liveliness, both from the guys and the crowd. Their songs would seem to pass by quickly but only because everyone was enjoying themselves so much as the band gave one hundred percent of their energy.


FIDLAR started off their set with “Alcohol” which had everyone screaming along to the song and then moved into one of my own personal favorites “No Waves.”


Throughout the rest of the concert, FIDLAR continued to show off their characteristic high-energy performance quality with songs like “40oz. On Repeat,” “West Coast,” and “Cheap Beer.” They never missed a beat and seamlessly transitioned between songs which made for an amazing concert experience.


I ended the night with my ears buzzing from the loud music but I’d also fallen even more in love with this group that lives by the words that make up their name, “Fuck It Dog, Life’s A Risk.”

Written by: Andrea Hoffman

Photography by: Andrea Hoffman

Hudson Taylor Rocks the Observatory North Park

Alfie Hudson Taylor

Harry Hudson Taylor

Last Monday night was the night that Hudson Taylor turned Folk Rock into a verb.

The Folk Pop Rock duo Hudson Taylor opened for Hozier at the Observatory North Park on October 15th, but their performance and the atmosphere in the crowd would have had anyone believing that they were headlining the show. The two brothers, Harry and Alfie, hailing from Dublin Ireland, had all 1,200 of us at the sold out venue stomping our feet and singing along before the first song on the setlist, “Travelin,” had even reached the second chorus.

The duo is touring as a whopping 7-piece band so their energetic vocals and guitar were backed by a fiddle, harmonica, violin, keys, mandolin, and even a tin whistle, as well as harmonic vocals from their sister. Their live performance encompasses a more traditional Irish folk sound than their pop-influenced studio recordings do, which turned the space into what felt like a jamboree for a solid 45 minutes. And let me tell you, everyone was loving it.

They performed a mix of tracks from their older album Singing for Strangers, as well as tracks from Feel It Again and Bear Creek to Dame Street, their EP and album that were released this year. About half way through the set, they encouraged a deafening chorus of “I don’t know why and I don’t know when, I need you now like I needed you then” from the crowd. Immediately after the first chorus of this uplifting tune entitled “Don’t Know Why,” which appears on Singing for Strangers and again as a live version on Bear Creek to Dame Street, is when we had the pleasure of hearing their sister Holly sing solo for the first time. Her melodies drew a loud applause from the front of the venue all the way to the back. From there, the song just got better and better with the surprising tin whistle solo, and heavenly harmonies from all seven musicians on the stage.

The atmosphere calmed down as they sang their most streamed track on Spotify entitled “Old Soul,” whose violin entranced the whole crowd into a collective swaying motion. We didn’t have long to catch our breath however, the energy picked right back up as they moved into the fast-paced, harder-hitting, “One in a Million.”

The brothers’ chemistry shown as bright as the stage lights during “Pray for the Day,” as they danced and fed off of each other’s showmanship. Harry's subdued grit and surprising vocalic outbursts and Alfie’s high energy tambourine jam was so fun to watch and to be a part of.

They closed out their set the same way they started it, with foot stomping hand clapping to the deep cut “Battles,” off of their first album. When all seven musicians locked arms and took their bow, the feeling was mutual around the room: we all wanted more.

Overall, the Irish duo’s live show surprised me in an incredibly good way. They have the talent and they have the stage presence. Luckily for us, I don’t think San Diego has seen the last of Hudson Taylor.

Written by: Aubrie Shadday



Sure Sure Plays The voodoo Room

Conversations about the myriad posters covering the walls of the Voodoo Room begin to slowly cease as a lanky, long-haired man, walks on stage from the back of the room. He unlaces his boots and places them against the wall, revealing his mismatched robot socks. Sure Sure guitarist Charlie Glick is ready for the show. A tambourine is heard, played by drummer Kevin Farzad, as the remaining three members follow: Farzad, keys/vocalist Chris Beachy, and bassist Mike Coleman; chatting with the crowd a bit as they walk up.

On October 13, 2018, at the House of Blues San Diego Voodoo Room, an inviting and friendly atmosphere was created by Sure Sure before they even took the stage. This comes as no surprise; they’ve dubbed their fans “True Friends,” and always treat them as such, both on and off the stage. That familial feeling was kept up through the band’s outstanding musicianship and personalities.

Sure Sure opened their set with the lively and acoustic driven “Giants” followed by “The Girls,” which includes one of my favorite moments that you can only hear if you see them live: Farzad shah-ing into his mic.

Their third song was the first of a few new/unreleased ones, it was called “Fully Automatic Lifestyle” which was fully welcomed by the crowd. The song features Sure Sure’s signature funky yet relatively laid-back vibes.

After receiving many requests over the months to revive an old favorite, they surprised the crowd with “The Caller” off their EP Songs From 2014. I had been waiting quite a while to hear this one live and it did not disappoint.

Skipping forward to present day, their newest release “Lie Lie Lie” was even better live than I expected. That song was definitely one of the highlights of the night. You could tell the band was quite proud and excited for their new era of music.

That aforementioned familial feeling of home was really apparent for me when they played “New Biome,” a very catchy tune about having to “find home in a new biome.” It’s always comforting to hear a song and be able to relate to it and it’s even better knowing a roomful of others do too.
Their cover of Talking Heads’ “This Must Be The Place” continues to be a fan favorite, as well as mine. Sure Sure breathes new life into the eighties song.

Towards the end of their set, the band gave out the coveted Most Valuable Fan award: a medal boasting the words “u did a good job.” The medal was presented to the bassist of their first opener for the night, local band Fashion Jackson. While the knowledge of this award could keep the crowd vying to be the one who “popped off the most,” Sure Sure hardly needs an incentive to get the crowd moving. However, they did end their main set with “Hands Up Head Down,” which has a dance move for it that goes exactly how you think. It’s always fun to see how into it the crowd gets, and San Diego did not disappoint.

The close playfulness between the band and their fans was felt as the crowd made fun of Sure Sure for being painfully visible side stage before their encore. They eventually gave in to the shouts and played one last song, an unreleased one from 2017 called “Idiot.” Their show ended on a high note as always. Every night with Sure Sure is always one of the best.

Written by: Emerson Redding

Don’t Miss FIDLAR Tonight In North Park

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If you’ve ever wanted to check out FIDLAR while they’re in San Diego, here’s your chance! The quartet punk band is going to be playing at the North Park Observatory on October 18th to kick off their latest tour alongside special guests Dilly Dally and The Side Eyes.


This tour comes prior to the release of their latest album Almost Free which will be released on January 25, 2019. The first single off their album, “Can’t You See” brings their usual electric rock vibes but also has an almost jazz-like influence behind it in the piano solo, which can only mean that this new album will be an exciting sound evolution for the band.


FIDLAR has been performing as a group since 2009 and is made up of Zac Carper (vocals, guitar), Max Kuehn (drums), Brandon Schwartzel (bass, vocals), and Elvis Kuehn (vocals, guitar). Their sound has often been coined as surf punk or skate punk, but they’ve never let those labels keep them from branching out and trying new things musically. However, one of their greatest strengths are their high energy live performances which never disappoint.


Tickets are still available so don’t miss your chance to see this exciting show and rock out with FIDLAR at a great venue!


When: October 18, 2018
Where: North Park Observatory
Cost: $27.50

Written by: Andrea Hoffman

Sure Sure is headed to San Diego!

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Experimental indie-pop quartet Sure Sure is coming back to San Diego for the second stop on their fall tour. They’ll be playing at the House of Blues Voodoo Room on October 13th.

Their “first ever third tour” follows two very successful tours. They kicked off 2018 opening for indie rockers Hippo Campus, and then embarked on their first national headliner that following April.

The band recently released their new single “Lie Lie Lie” and a video to go with it. Sure Sure’s dreamy yet energetic sound is heard through Chris Beachy on keys, sharing vocals with guitarist Charlie Glick; Kevin Farzad on drums; and bassist/producer/occasional cowbell player Mike Coleman.  They are expected to release new music soon as they continue working from their in-house studio in Highland Park.

Seeing Sure Sure in concert is like seeing an old friend, even if you have never heard of the band before. They bring their lively personalities to match their intelligently crafted songs, leaving everyone in the crowd with a sense of home found in synths and on-stage banter. Come down to the Voodoo Room at House of Blues on Saturday, October 13th to see for yourself!

You can call the guys at (657) 444-7579 to get to know them before the show, tell ‘em a good joke, or just say hey.

When: Saturday, October 13, 2018, at 7:00 pm

Where: House of Blues San Diego, in the Voodoo Room

Cost: $21 | Get tickets

Written by: Emerson Redding

Lauren Ruth Ward & Shakey Graves Rock The Observatory North Park

On June 24th, Lauren Ruth Ward and Shakey Graves came to perform at The Observatory North Park. The venue has had several artists come in and rock the crowd before. This show was the first time in awhile where the venue has had some great live blues and rock and roll music. . It was my second time seeing Lauren Ruth Ward and I she floored me the first time. I was hoping for a similar experience seeing Shakey Graves live. This show met my expectations and then shattered them. 

Shakey Graves' Sleepwalker Tour happened right after his and Lauren Ruth Ward released new albums this year. The show happened to fall on a Sunday and that usually meant the weekend crowd would be there. When there is a show on the weekend, the crowd tends to be more lively and more fun, in general. The opener was Lauren Ruth Ward and fed off the energy from the crowd.

She came out to the crowd and was vibrant as I remember when I saw her in the Soda Bar. She came out to the crowd in colorful clothes with her multi-colored hair. She performed hits like "Did I Offend You?" and "Make Love to Myself" that made me remember how much I loved her the first time I saw her. It was great seeing her on a bigger stage with more of an audience. 

After she left, everyone was waiting for Shakey Graves. Despite being the opener, Lauren Ruth Ward put on a killer set and seemed hard to top. Even with my bias, when Shakey Graves came on, he proved me wrong. He came onto the stage and showed me wrong. I felt bad for sleeping on his music for all these years.

He kicked off his set with the song "Word of Mouth" from his 2016 album, Live at Levon's. I've never listened much to folk music outside of Fleet Foxes but Shakey Graves had so much soul behind his lyrics. He sang his heart out song after song and continually impressed me. He played mostly new song off his latest record, Can't Wake Up, for his set but closed it with some of the fan-favorite tracks.  He ended on the song "Dearly Departed" and it was great. I listened to it in the car after the show as well and felt like that was the best way he could have ended the show. 

Overall, it was a great and memorable night. Full of great tunes, fun people, and good ole rock n roll. Going to The Observatory North Park is always a treat and that night was no exception. I loved both artists and i'd be more than happy to see either artists again in the future. If you're in the mood to listen to some new music, I could not recommend Lauren Ruth Ward or Shakey Graves enough. 

King Princess Becomes a Queen at the Music Box

What is there to say about King Princess? For starters, she's one of the most interesting artists to emerge this year. Her songs are catchy and the lyrics are emotional and personal. You can easily relate to what she's singing while belting out to her songs in the car or shower. Her personal life makes you even more invested in her. According to Wikipedia, the most trusted source online, she has been around music her whole life. She was offered a record deal at an incredibly young age and even went to USC's music school. She's a stout supporter for the LGBTQ community and fun fact, her great-great-grandparents were aboard the Titanic. I was introduced to King Princess's music from a friend and was hooked right away after hearing "1950". I listened to "Talia" shortly after and fell in love immediately. I knew I had to see her live and I jumped at the chance when I found out she was coming to San Diego.

On July 30th, I went to the Music Box to see King Princess live. I haven't seen in a concert in awhile and I was happy to have her as my homecoming back to the music scene. Despite blowing up and being relatively new, the show was sold out. I've never been to a show before where the crowd was predominately female and I was impressed with the age range. There were adults, teenagers, and even some kids who had to drag their moms to the show. It was crazy how King Princess released "1950" in only February and less than half a year later, she had a sold out show with a bunch of hardcore fans.

The opener for King Princess was a singer named Donna Missal. I've never heard of her before and i'm usually wary of openers but she flipped my bias upside down that night. Despite being new to my ears, she performed onstage like a veteran. She had great stage presence and knew how to work the crowd. My favorite part of her set was her cover of the famous Paula Cole song "I Don't Want to Wait" aka Dawson's Creek's theme song. It was rare to have someone cover that song but it's such a good song to cover. Anyone who knew the song, myself included, belted out the lyrics alongside her. Despite being an opener, she made the most of her set and ended with a bang which pumped up the crowd right before King Princess came on. I was impressed with how well she could sing and made me want to go on Spotify after the show to hear more of her songs. 

Once King Princess came on, everyone was ready. She was the main event for the night, the woman of the hour, the person everyone that night came to see. King Princess came gracefully onto the stage while wearing overalls while taking hits from her juul. Something so fitting for her and it just made me love her even more. She started her set by playing "Make My Bed" on the piano and "Upper West Side" on the guitar after. Some people standing next to me were impressed with how she knew how to play multiple instruments and sing. King Princess had great banter in between songs with some memorable moments being her talking about how she loved how her bandmates kept complimenting each other and her just hitting on random people from the audience. She then played some songs that are new or unreleased. One of them was "House Burn Down", a track that is going to be on her upcoming album. 

 

The riffs on "House Burn Down" were very reminiscent of surf rock and was just fantastic overall. King Princess really knows how to captivate you with her singing. Other new songs she played were "Best Friend", "Sunburn" and "Homegirl". She ended the show with her two biggest hits, "Talia", my personal favorite, and "1950". Earlier in the show, she spoke on how she'll continue to tour in the future and be all old while her fans keep yelling at her to play "1950". While funny, you can't deny how great the song is.

She ended the the show with two encores and i'm sure everyone in the crowd felt satisfied after her set. King Princess was amazing and i'm glad she was the first artist I was able to get to see after a short hiatus from going to shows. I can't wait for her album and she made me turn from a regular fan to a hardcore and loyal one. San Diego may have been the last stop of her tour but I hope it's not the last time she'll perform here.

Joan of Arc Metaphorically Burn the Soda Bar Down with Their Music

Music critics often become gatekeepers of what is cool and what is not. Most reviews, largely due to the accessibility of the internet, can come down whether one should go to the show or buy it or not. There isn’t room for the grey areas of, well this not for everybody but there are merits to their art. A band with an eclectic discography can be derided by stupid critics who’ve barely got a degree to write a simple review. Joan of Arc is a working horse of a band, their music spans decades.  They have probably made more interesting album pieces and sound changes than most bands would ever venture. They are great at subverting expectations of what their fans think Joan of Arc should sound like. Whereas most band’s “experimentation” would be within the confines of what will get them good reviews from sites like pitchfork or other music journalist sites, Joan of Arc really tries hard to give the fans not what they want, but what they need from them. The band shifts their focus to their front woman, Melina Ausikaitis, vocals in “1984,” which is more impressive live. On July 10, 2018, Joan of Arc plays with local legend Rob Crow at the Soda Bar. This could have been a lineup match that one would have at the Che Café in the 1990’s or 2000’s, making for one of the more interesting shows at the Soda Bar as well as shows on their tour.

Rob Crow brought a more retrospective set to open the show. Having an equally eclectic discography as Joan of Arc, with bands ranging from Heavy Vegetables to Anal Trump, Rob Crow’s acoustic show can pull from a lot of music making for an unpredictable and exciting set. He plays his Martin acoustic guitar through an amp that is mic’d. Though he is not promoting any new music while playing as the opening act, he does have a lot of albums coming out this year, with my favorite project, Optiganally Yours already out digitally and a 2018 Artist in Residence collaboration with Joyful Noise coming out as well. His acoustic guitar playing is very angular with a very fast rhythms and changes. It’s interesting to see the differentiations between his songs, which are rarely simple chords to the covers he chooses to do, which use barre chords. The songs translate very well from a full band setting to acoustic guitar. Vocals seem like they take a lot of breath between each song and he has very good breath control. He played notable songs from his Heavy Vegetables project, including “Song for Wesley,” “Thingy,” “Junior,” and “Couch.” He also played songs from his other project, Thingy, which includes “Ropeswing” and “Cutest Baby.” Rob Crow is always impressive at playing, and even if one hasn’t heard of his music, they would be hard pressed not to acknowledge how technically skilled he is at both guitar and vocals. What’s more impressive than his musically ability is that he is a great guy with immense knowledge. I got to hear him talk about his favorite comic book writers, which include Grant Morrison, Garth Ennis, and David Lapham. He says he hasn’t caught up since the DC Comic’s New 52 but that’s okay, they’ve moved on to DC Rebirth anyways. For anyone who wants recommendations from Rob Crow, he suggested reading “Stray Bullets” by David Lapham. So check it out!

Joan of Arc played a progressive set from a band searching for their next sound. Before I get into the sound, their set up was something worth noting. There were a lot of instruments on, even for a five piece band.  One person had a laptop with electronic hardware in their section, the bass player had a keyboard and even the drummer had a guitar by his side. The shear amount of work to set up the gear is probably a lot of work, let alone caring this on tour and making sure each piece of gear work exactly and accordingly. The immense set up for the show proved to be more than useful in the show as members would switch between instruments, including the drummer who would play drums and guitar at the same time.  Every member had at least another instrument to play on top of the other normative instrument. I’m not sure what people really expect when they see a band with their vast discography, usually bands would have a hit or two and hone in their familiar songs to allow casual listeners to feel comfortable. But Joan of Arc, with their daunting catalog, begs for deep cuts as well as music from their new album. Joan of Arc opted to perform a lot from their new album, which is a pleasant surprise; it really demonstrates that they feel really confident in their new directions. Seeing them perform songs such as “Tiny Baby,” “Punk Kid,” and “Truck” shows gave me new perspective and appreciation for their newer songs. With lyrics about being a tiny baby can be off putting at first, but hearing it live brought me new perspectives to the song. I understand it is the phonetics, the way it is being sang that really matters here. A friend who came with me was concerned about seeing the band with the new direction, but there was really nothing to fear. There is new appreciation for Melina Ausikaitis’ vocals. They were truly a highlight for me as she sang with boldness. There is a sincerity and vulnerability that is almost uncomfortable, like a light that is too bright to see anything. Joan of Arc as a band demonstrates almost a chaotic nature in their sound. They can be rock band; they can be experimental as hell too. The front woman Melina Ausikatis carried around her what almost looks like a guitar, but it was more percussive than anything. She would tap different objects to create knocking noises, it sounded almost like crickets in a forest. The show was almost a variety show of noise as they would play their songs as a full band and end with noises. The bass player would play bass in the more overtly band atmosphere and end with sounds from his Casio keyboard. Occasionally, he would end the songs with a microphone capturing any feedback noise, most likely sampling the noise on his Casio sk-1 keyboard. Tim Kinsella, frontman of Joan of Arc, was very vibrant as he played three different instruments or sounds, sometimes using them all in one song. He would switch from his guitar, to his keyboard that sometime would play one note, and what appeared to be an Ipad. I’m assuming he’s making more noise with that. Towards the end of his set, he thanks the crowd in a soft spoken voice.  He mentions how strange it is to be playing with fellow musician Rob Crow. Almost a “time warp” as the band called it. I would agree with this sentiment, this is definitely a show that is one for the books in San Diego. Two acts that are in different stages in their musical careers, both are still surviving after many different shifts in the music cultural landscape. They are both still underrated in the sheer amount of talent they brought tonight.

I have to admit, reviewing music is very strange, how can one really rate an experience? I’m also not one to gate keep what is cool and what is not in music because what matters to me is surely not worth profiting from as I’m still trying to figure how to make a living off music as well. All I can say is that see Rob Crow as many times as one can possibly see him; he truly is a San Diego legend. As for Joan of Arc, although they played a chaotic and confusing set, I left wanting more from them. I felt that by the end of their set, they have only scratched the surface of what sounds they can do.

A Day In the Life With Nyck Caution

The Ace Hotel is a grand old place in Downtown LA, but not such a great place to find parking. I circled it for what felt like hours in the June heat, but must have been about 20 minutes. Finally I gave up and pulled into a paid public parking lot. After a futile search through my glove compartment (coming up with only $4.25 in mostly quarters and nickels), I realized I was going to have to ask the construction workers posted near by for some change. God bless the man who took one look and me and passed me a 20 dollar bill and a sympathetic smile. 

As I walked the one block down the Olympic Boulevard, I got catcalled twice, watched a haggard-looking man inject a needle into his ankle, and skipped the whole line to the Flatbush Zombies meetup. I was greeted with a smile by Nyck Caution, one of the core members of the Brooklyn hip-hop group Pro Era. I had met him while shooting the Flatbush Zombies concert in San Diego (he was one of the openers, alongside longtime friend and collaborator Kirk Knight), and he invited me up to show him around LA before their show at the Novo. The Flatbush Zombies pop up merch shop had a line around the block of people buying merch, most of whom said hello to Nyck and he graciously accepted their compliments. After realizing the AC was not exactly working, we headed downstairs to the Ace Hotel’s cafe to cool off. 

As we sat there, Nyck used our silverware, his cappuccino, and my iced tea, to explain how close his hometown of Mill Basin was to Flatbush Avenue, Kings Plaza, and Barclays in New York. When I asked him about how he became a part of Pro Era, he laughed and adjusted his black Yankees hat, “There was so much chance involved.” When he was a freshman in high school, he was put in a six-term geometry class, a class for the kids who needed a little more time to learn things. “I was so mad; I fought with the school to put me into the four-term geometry class,” stirring his coffee, “I was really good at math.”  

But things ended up working out when he met Capital Steez in that six-term geometry class. Their friendship started off as an acquaintanceship but then grew when Steez saw Nyck perform at a local show. The next day at school, Steez asked him if he rapped and if he had a studio. At the time, Nyck was in another group that didn’t end up working out, and he and Steez both ended up in Pro Era before long. He laughed as he showed me a video of a wrestling dance he had choreographed years ago - how he met Joey Bada$$. “This part’s my favorite – look at me deck him,” and sure enough on the grainy Facebook video was Jesse (as he’s known to friends and his high school yearbook) sprinting across stage and steamrolling one of his friends. 

When I asked about what being on tour with Joey Bada$$ was like, on the 2013 Beast Coast Tour with The Underachievers and the Flatbush Zombies, he smiled and looked out the window behind me. “It was crazy,” he licked his lips, “especially in Australia, we were flying from city to city...just absolutely nuts.” He continued, “And we were like brothers, you know, we were doing our first everything’s together in music. That’s a special bond.” I complimented him on his Vapor Maxes, which he sported again that day, and talked to him about how I loved the Sean Wotherspoon Nike’s. When I asked him about how his body felt after such energetic shows, he admitted rappers could definitely use masseuses on tour. “So the whole jumping into mosh pits thing isn’t great for your body?” I asked. “After some scientific research and some trial and error,” he responded, “I can presume it is not, but fuck it I will continue.” He looked at me for a little, cocked his head, and said “Let’s get out of here.”

We walked back to my car; the path now mercilessly free of needles and catcalls. When we hopped in my car, we struck a deal - I’d do directions if he took the aux. As I queued up the directions to Melrose and Fairfax, he queued up a mix of new Kanye and Kid Cudi songs from Kids See Ghosts while sprinkling in a couple 070 Shake songs. I asked him about his music making process, and he mentioned how he has to switch things up - sometimes he’ll think of a couple bars in his head and write them down or sometimes he’ll be in the studio and hear a beat and try something new. Watch any of his interviews, especially Sway in the Morning’s Five Finger Salute Freestyle one, and you’ll be blown away by this 24-year-old’s lyricism.

When I talked about my brother making beats on GarageBand, he animatedly began showing me an app called BeatMaker on his phone and explaining how he had used those very same beats in projects. “I was so mad,” shaking his head for emphasis, “when I got a new phone it deleted the 40 or so beats I had on there.” I asked about any new music he’d been working on; he glanced sideways at me with a mischievous look and said “it’s a little different,” and started scrolling through his emails and notes.

The unreleased music he played me was absolutely beautiful - there’s something so great about driving down the 405 with your left leg getting crispy in the afternoon LA sun, speakers turned all the way up blasting songs no one will hear again for months (or maybe ever), and having their artist explain to you how he feels about each one. He narrated each one, sprinkling in comments like “Oh it’s not fully mixed yet, it’ll hit so much harder after,” “this one’s an album piece - maybe an interlude,” and cracking up when I called one of the tracks "lightskin". He admitted, “I was feeling myself when I recorded that one.” We were interrupted by a FaceTime from Kirk Knight, waving hi to us and requesting to Nyck, “If you go to Round Two, get me some off-whites. Size 11.”

We parked on Fairfax and walked past the Girls Tour sign before I stopped and teased him into taking a picture in front of it.

   (Nyck @ Day)    Photo Cred: Paige Doherty ( @themillenialcurator)

(Nyck @ Day) Photo Cred: Paige Doherty (@themillenialcurator)

 I pointed out the shadow of a tree obscured the G in girls; Nyck just laughed and jokingly replied “I am the G.” We strolled down Melrose, poking our heads into Ikon LA and Joy Rich, admiring all the art, vintage clothing, and people watching. In Wasteland, a stop suggested by Kirk, we looked at vintage band T-shirts before getting overwhelmed by all the choices and heading to Round Two Hollywood. 

Usually sporting a line out the door, the sidewalk in front of Round Two was surprisingly empty. Walking in to Vintage by Round Two never gets old - they have such a cool selection of vintage colorful windbreakers mixed with the latest street fashion sneakers. Further past those is a wall of Supreme, racks of vintage Guess, and a tantalizing wall of sneakers. As Nyck FaceTimed Kirk to show him the off-white selection, I heard someone say, “Hey Sean, can I get a picture?” 

No way, I thought, I was just telling Nyck about how much I loved those shoes. And sure enough, there was Sean Wotherspoon. I pride myself on not fangirling, but I was so excited to meet him! I asked to him about his iconic shoe design, and he talked about the development of Round Two by Round Two, their new in-house brand.

 I introduced Sean to Nyck, who complimented Sean on the shoes. Sean in turn complimented Nyck on his tie dye Flatbush Zombies shirt, which sparked a conversation about Nyck opening for Flatbush Zombies on tour. 

It was approaching sound check time, so we headed back towards Fairfax. We both agreed that traffic signals were overrated and compared crossing traditions in New York and Europe (both places where a red hand is a suggestion). Driving back to downtown LA, I asked Nyck who his favorite non-rap artist was and he started to play me some Tame Impala. As the opening chords unraveled, I snapped a picture of his Disguise the Limit tattoo, a tribute to his late friend and collaborator Capital Steez. 

   (Disguise The Limit)    Photo Cred: Paige Doherty ( @themillenialcurator)

(Disguise The Limit) Photo Cred: Paige Doherty (@themillenialcurator)

“It’s from one of his lines,” running a finger down the length of it, “The sky’s the limit that’s what they told the fucking fool, I disguise the limit now I’m aiming to the sun and moon.”

Back at the tour bus, he grabbed his pass and gave me a quick tour of the Flatbush Zombies official tour bus, pretty messy after two months on the road. The floor was littered with expensive sneakers, fan art, and backwoods foil wrappers. Nyck proudly showed me his bunk and explained how brutal life on tour could be: “We play a show, we leave the city at 2amish, we go to the next city, we sleep for a couple hours, we perform, and it starts all over again. But it’s worth it to be able to do what you love.” 

We parted with a hug; he headed off to sound check and I headed back to reality. 

Concert Review: Flatbush Zombies at Soma

I first saw the Flatbush Zombies at Coachella this year, where their visual-heavy set early in the afternoon at Mojave attracted a large crowd from a diverse background - many mumbling around the crowd revealed people had left their friend groups behind to come to this set. Hailing from New York, the Flatbush Zombies are one of hip-hops hottest new trios - composed of Meechy Darko, Zombie Juice, and Erick the Architect. Still independent, they’ve built a strong fan base that prides itself on being politically and socially aware of the current climate, as well as loving music.

   (Coachella)  Photo Cred: Paige Doherty ( @themillenialcurator)

(Coachella) Photo Cred: Paige Doherty (@themillenialcurator)

The Coachella set in April was my first real introduction to the group; fast forward to June and I had the opportunity to review their show at Soma SD. As we’ve mentioned in previous posts, SOMA SD is one of the gems of the San Diego music venue scene. A bare-bones room painted black, fronted by enormous speakers, housed the See You in Hell tour, featuring the Flatbush Zombies and Pro Era members Nyck Caution and Kirk Knight, on June 13th.

The first opener, Nyck Caution, is a core member of the Pro Era family, a New York hip hop movement known for their layered lyricism, hard-hitting songs, and Brooklyn swagger.

   (Nyck Caution)  Photo Cred: Paige Doherty ( @themillenialcurator)

(Nyck Caution) Photo Cred: Paige Doherty (@themillenialcurator)

Before going on tour with Flatbush Zombies, he and Joey Bada$$ (also a proud Pro Era member) toured together. Nyck bounced out from stage right, his all black Vapormaxes giving him a little extra air with each step.

   (VaporMaxes)  Photo Cred: Paige Doherty ( @themillenialcurator)

(VaporMaxes) Photo Cred: Paige Doherty (@themillenialcurator)

A smile broke across his face as the crowd roared its approval, and his energy was absolutely contagious. Jumping right into “Perfect Murder,” one of the songs off his and Kirk Knight’s project Nyck @ Knight, he kept his energy up throughout the whole set. Pausing in the middle for a Capital Steez tribute (the Pro Era-studded collab Like Water), he explained how hearing the late Steez rap “The sky's the limit, that's what they told the fuckin' fool. I disguise the limit, now I'm aimin' for the Sun and Moon” lead to the title of Nyck’s 2016 debut mixtape, Disguise the Limit.

   (Nyck Caution 2)  Photo Cred: Paige Doherty ( @themillenialcurator)

(Nyck Caution 2) Photo Cred: Paige Doherty (@themillenialcurator)

My favorite part of his set was when he parted the crowd, walked through adoring fans to the center, and started a mosh pit to his hard-hitting single “See You in Hell.” After a cover of Kid Cudi’s “Pursuit of Happiness,” Nyck welcomed Kirk Knight on stage.

   (Kirk Knight)  Photo Cred: Paige Doherty ( @themillenialcurator)

(Kirk Knight) Photo Cred: Paige Doherty (@themillenialcurator)

Kirk Knight got the crowd hyped up before launching into a set of A$AP Mob covers and songs from Nyck @ Knight. A multi-talented producer and rapper, he seemed happiest whipping the crowd into a frenzy as he demonstrated his versatility switching between genres with ease. He brought Nyck back on stage for a few of the songs of their project Nyck @ Knight, and the two shared excellent chemistry, really reflecting how close they are. After his set, Kirk gave hugs to everyone in the first couple rows - obviously making their days.

   (Kirk Knight 2)  Photo Cred: Paige Doherty ( @themillenialcurator)

(Kirk Knight 2) Photo Cred: Paige Doherty (@themillenialcurator)

After Kirk’s set, smoke started to fill the stage, obscuring the three coffins unveiled and filling the lungs of the front rows. The crowd started rumbling as the Zombies appeared out of their coffins then launched into an energetic version of “HELL-O.”

   (Erick the Architect)  Photo Cred: Paige Doherty ( @themillenialcurator)

(Erick the Architect) Photo Cred: Paige Doherty (@themillenialcurator)

Each of their unique personalities shone in their performance - Zombie Juice lead the audience in a chant “I love myself,” Meechy Darko performed a slowed-down version of “Facts,” and Erick the Architect spat bars faster than he could breathe. Of course, no Zombies concert would be complete without a little mosh pit action. Meechy stepped over people, supported by what looked like solid cheerleading triangles as Juice supported from the barricade.

   (Zombie Juice)  Photo Cred: Paige Doherty ( @themillenialcurator)

(Zombie Juice) Photo Cred: Paige Doherty (@themillenialcurator)

They came together for hits like "Best American" (declaring their run for President) and "Vacation" (Meechy growling his iconic “I just got back from Australia”). They played an unreleased song about favorite strains, and closed off an absolutely raucous set with Palm Trees.

   (Meechy Darko)  Photo Cred-Paige Doherty ( @themillenialcurator)

(Meechy Darko) Photo Cred-Paige Doherty (@themillenialcurator)

After the show, the pit held remnants of Backwoods and lost shoes and jackets. Teens stumbled out into the night, bubbling over with stories about how they touched this artist or that artist in an ultimate show of one-upmanship. As I walked to my car, I couldn’t think of a more unique performance that I’d ever seen. Flatbush Zombies and their openers Nyck Caution and Kirk Knight should definitely be on your radar, if they weren’t already.

 

 

 

 

Reuben And the Dark Light up the Soda Bar

On June 12th, Reuben And the Dark played at the iconic San Diego venue, the Soda Bar. I love the venue and I was interested in seeing what the band sounded like live. The Canadian indie band has been on tour with bands like Boy and Bear and Vance Joy before so I knew they were bound to be good. This was my first time seeing the band and I was ready to be impressed.

The opener for their San Diego stop was Lindsay Perry who had no problem holding her own, rewarding the early attendees with what she had to offer. She sang her heart out with her acoustic set of her own original songs and even did some renditions which included Gorillaz's "Clint Eastwood". A mashup of Eazy E's "Boyz In the Hood" and The Fresh Prince of Bel Air theme song followed soon after. It was great to see a San Diego artist open up but I was excited to see the band after.

Fronted by Reuben Bullock, a bearded man with with an air of mystery around him, the Calgary-based seemed ready to rock the venue. Songs like ‘Rolling Stone’ and ‘Bow & Arrow’ were definitely highlights of the sets. The backing members of the bands harmonizing with Reuben only added to the songs and made them more impressive. Reuben even walked off the stage and sang with the audience. He really wanted to get intimate with the crowd and encouraged us to sing along with him. Maybe it was because he was wearing white but it seemed like he had a certain radiance to him which contrasted the name of the band. 

Reuben And the Dark's set stood out to me and exceeded my expectations. The Soda Bar is great venue and have had several great artists come and perform there. Reuben And the Dark came made the venue like a cozy hole-in-the-wall spot and made their set seem like an intimate performance. I cannot wait to see them again once they come back to San Diego. 

Quiet Slang Comes to the Soda Bar on June 29th!

Beach Slang is coming to San Diego on June 29th. However the band will be arriving under a new name, Quiet Slang. 

Quiet Slang is lead singer James Alex’s new project. For fans who want to know the difference between Quiet Slang and Beach Slang, listen to “Dirty Cigarettes” below and compare it to Beach Slang’s Cheap Thrills on a Dead End Street EP. It's the same song but the new version  on Quiet Slang’s new album, Everything Matters But No One Is Listening really shows the contrast of the songs. The songs sound similar but the new acoustic version really puts an emphasis on the lyrics and showcases them. It's always refreshing to hear a new take on a song and have it sound just as good or maybe even better than the original.

Apparently, the idea of Quiet Slang came after a performance of Beach Slang songs when they came on for NPR’s Tiny Desk series. The positive reception from the acoustic performance James Alex put on for Tiny Desk led him to release the first release under the Quiet Slang name with an EP in 2017. Beach Slang was more listening to the great instrumentation of the songs and Quiet Slang is more on an introspective take where the lyrics are what shines more. 

Everything Matters But No One Is Listening is an album loaded with stripped-down versions of previous Beach Slang songs. Although the album is solid, fans were worried this might spell the demise of Beach Slang. Despite many changes to Beach Slang's lineup, James reassured fans that the band has not broken up. Quiet Slang is more of a sibling to the Beach Slang family. 

The title of the album itself, Everything Matters But No One Is Listening, is a a change of pace for listeners of Beach Slang. These more barren and acoustic songs put a spotlight on the original and shed new light on them. Fans new and old should be excited to see this reinvention. If you're interested in more of an intimate set with a drink in hand, this show will be one for you. 

You can find tickets to the show here