Come see Miguel live at the Cal Coast Credit Union Amphitheater!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
When you hear King Tuff, you would probably imagine a tough king. In actuality, the name refers to the musician but also the name of his band. I remember first hearing King Tuff when my friend played one of his songs on the way back home from school. I was hooked to his sound immediately.
The music King Tuff creates is filled with synths reminiscent of the 1980's, psychedelic funk rock, or can even sound like a classic rock song. Their music is nostalgic but refreshing at the same time. There are numerous venues the band could have played at but the Casbah seemed fitting. The band was perfect for the venue and fans were excited to see them live.
King Tuff released his fifth album, The Other, back in April. For fans who saw him live but have never heard much of the album before were lucky. He played most of the album during his set. That night was seemed more of an "Intimate Night with King Tuff" with the amount of songs he played that night. Fans got more than their money's worth and the band made it a priceless memory.
King Tuff started his set with title track from The Other and just kept playing songs from the album. The songs kept people on their feet and you couldn't help but to groove along with tunes. The songs were fantastic and definitely one of my favorite shows to date. If you had to compare the songs from studio quality to the live version, the live versions trump the other. They even came out to play a few more songs as an encore and I finally got to hear "Sun Medallion" live. King Tuff came, performed, and conquered the Casbah and the crowd became new citizens of his kingdom.
Circuits in the Sand
Birds of Paradise
Thru the Cracks
Freak When I’m Dead
No Man’s Land
Eyes of the Muse
One of the brights spots in the San Diego music scene is Soma. The venue has two stages that ranges from having rap acts, up-and-coming bands, and more established acts perform there. On May 5th, the latter happened at Soma. On a Saturday evening, Of Montreal took the stage and performed an amazing show.
of Montreal has released a whopping 15 albums with their most latest album, White Is Relic/Irrealis Mood, which came out earlier in March. The band is fronted by Kevin Barnes and is a part of the Elephant 6 Collective which includes other notable bands such as Neutral Milk Hotel. If you have never seen the band perform live before, you are in for a treat. I have had friends who have told me one of their favorite concerts was seeing Of Montreal live. Crazy psychedelic visuals being blasted on stage, vibrant and numerous costumed background dancers, and memorable theatrics, are everything you could see at an Of Montreal show.
The show began with the opener Locate S, 1 performing. She held her own and that crowd was into her set. However, everyone was ready to see the headliners. When the band came onto stage, right away, the band had everyone into the a great mood with their opening song, "Id Engager". The band continued to play their hits such as "Gronlandic Edit" and "Wraith Pinned to the Mist (and Other Games)", which kept the energy alive in the crowd.
The show was fantastic, with an audience that was full of life that continued to dance as each song changed to another. The audience was full of a mixed bag of people. Everyone of all ages coexisted and just had fun that night. Of Montreal played approximately 20 songs that night but their set didn't feel like it dragged on at all.
Seeing the band live will surpass all of your expectations if you're a fan. It's great to know there are bands out there that can make their songs better live instead of listening to the studio versions. If you've never seen Of Montreal live, I cannot recommend them enough. If you want to dance and sing along to good music then there is no better band to see than them.
Iceage thrives in a world of contradiction. Their studio recordings do not really sit well within under an umbrella of set genres and their live performances are not exception either. Iceage have been under titles such as hardcore and post punk, but given how clear cut these genres are in the United States, they really can’t mesh well. Given that these guys are outsiders, hailing from Denmark, they are able to utilize the brutality of hardcore punk and the experimental sides of post punk music they invent a style that is totally unique. Beyond their four stellar studio albums, their live set at the Casbah embodied the contradictions and the dangerous side of rock and roll.
On June 5th, I was able to catch Iceage, who brought on tour with them Mary Lattimore, an experimental harpist from Los Angeles. It is an interesting choice to say the least for Iceage to have her play alongside her for the American tour. There is a subversion of expectation to certain bands that would normally open for a band like Iceage but that gives her an upper hand. She is everything that Iceage is not. Her music is bright and melodic, where she would play in a high octave as Iceage would experiment with the dullness of sounds sticking to lower and midtones of drums, bass, and singing. She is American and fits within the context of American experimental music whereas Iceage’s music is informed by their outside perspective of American and British music, trying to emulate it through their perspective. Mary Lattimore exerts feminine qualities through her music being very soft, playful and inviting to our ears yet still mysterious and complex in her playing.
Iceage’s music contains all the mysterious and complexity in their music but the attitude is in the opposite spectrum. They exhibit the masculine side of experimental music, playing aggressively with harsh textures that are almost overbearingly loud. Mary Lattimore gives a nice complimentary set to Iceage’s set to come. She played the harp to a backing track of experimental sounds, which includes a rhythm section of harps playing backwards as well. Her antidotes gave insight to where she was coming from musically with songs about her family’s blind dog to recording stories of living in San Francisco with a bunch of artist. Her performance had everyone silent to hear her music and it was therapy to my ears before changing palettes to Iceage’s sharp and bruiting music.
Iceage came on stage and epitomize everything that made rock and roll dangerous again. In a world where American and even British rock and roll seems to be limp, safe, and lacking in any interesting ideas, Iceage offers what makes rock and roll exciting. I don’t like comparing musicians because it cheapens what the artist has to offer, but they’re music is brooding and unified almost what I would imagine listening to the Stooges would be like. There is a singularity and uniformity to what they are playing, no one in the group strays or expresses individuality rather they all submit to the greater sound and conformity of the music. This idea of unity is also expressed through clothing as well, only sticking to the dreariness of muted colors such as black, brown and dark green patterns.
Elias, the lead vocalist, doesn’t croon but slurs and snarls. It is almost incomprehensible what any of the words are, but music is not necessarily about understand what’s being said, the inflections and the attitudes speak for themselves. There is intensity to his singing, staring at the crowd and agitating them by getting into their face. Someone in the crowd told me he looked “scary” but to me his performance was more thrilling than anything. I can help but grin every time he would come off as threatening because it was all part of the performance or the character he was personifying.
The band’s performance for me was the exceptional highlight of the night. I was standing in front, next to the bass amp and hearing how simple the bass lines were demonstrated the power of rock music. How effective rock music can be is through its directness and how they play their instrument. The bass was simple but authoritative in its sound. The drummer was also a highlight, whereas the bass and guitar were less about melody and more on harsh textures and rhythms, the drums could be noted as the most expressive instrument in the group with songs like “White Rune,” which relied on the drums to move wherever it please. Songs like “Morals” as showcased the drums, where the snare was being beat like it was some sort of funeral march. Other favorites that were played included, “The Lord’s Favorite,” “Plowing Through a Field of Love,” and “Forever.” The new music from “Beyondless” also fit well with the set, which included opener “Hurrah,” “Pain Killer,” “The Day Music Died,” and “Catch It.”
All in all, Iceage played one of my favorite shows this year. Their energy was very contagious and their uniformity in their playing boast strengths. It is hard to really categorize Iceage, they really don’t fit in a category of music and I don’t really think they can either. Seeing them live only puzzled me more about how to contextualize their music, but none the less the thrill did not affect my enjoyment, it might even add more to their mystery.
On May 29th, Lauren Ruth Ward graced Soda Bar with her presence to a crowd full of people. Lauren Ruth Ward is a singer/songwriter who hails from the great state of Maryland. She used to be hair stylist before trading in a blow dryer for a microphone. I've never seen her live before so I was excited to see what she had to offer.
I came to the show and made it in time for the first opener, Somme. Off the hype of her debut EP which dropped earlier in May, it was great to see what she had to offer. She played songs off the EP and I was very into her songs. Her sound was pretty refined for someone relatively new to the scene. Her song "Long Time" turned me into a fan and I can't wait for her to come back to San Diego.
The second opener was Yip Yops. The band originated in Coachella Valley and even have performed at the festival. The band is incredibly talented and their sound was refreshing to hear. Even though they looked young, they seemed like veterans on stage. The band was very charismatic and the lead singer had fantastic stage presence. He just oozed charisma. Maybe that's why I had so much fun watching them and could not look away from them during their set.
Last but not least was the main event. The lady of the hour, Lauren Ruth Ward came onto the stage to an eager audience. The first thing I noticed about the singer was her hair. It was colorful and vibrant, I wouldn't be surprised if she did her hair herself. The artist released her latest album Well, Hell back in February and I liked what I heard on first lesson. Seeing her perform it live took it to another level though. She had a great stage presence and I can tell she got and her band got along well. She seemed as good of a person as she is as a singer. She's coming back to open for Shakey Graves on June 24th in case you missed your chance seeing her perform. Thanks to the Soda Bar for being a great venue and a big shout out to Lauren Ruth Ward for coming down to perform!
The Observatory North Park had a fantastic show on April 7th, 2018. They opened its doors on Saturday as electronic dance music fans were treated to an entrancing experience. DJ/producer Chris Emerson or as how he is popularly known by, What So Not. The artist recently released his debut album, Not All The Beautiful Things in March.
What So Not was originally a duo along with another notable producer named Flume. After Flume decided to go off on his own, What So Not has been narrowed down to only one person. After releasing his own debut album, What So Not began the United States leg of his Beautiful Things World Tour. He has brought on Mad Dawg and Duckwrth as his openers for the night.
The show kicked off with a set from a DJ named Mad Dawg. Although i’ve never heard of her before, she had a nice mix to appease the crowd. What I noticed right away was the backdrop behind her. What So Not went all out with props for his set. After Mad Dawg’s set, Duckwrth appeared after.
The rapper came out full of energy and was so lively. He was so charismatic and got the crowd really into it. His style was captivating as he was as fashionable as adapt on the mic. In an interview he did with AMG, which you can find here, he stated how he strived to be like Freddie Mercury or Prince, someone who commanded the crowd with their stage presence. If he keeps it up, he might be able to reach that level as a musician.
After Duckwrth’s set came to an end, What So Not took the stage. It was finally time to see what he was about and he lived up to the expectations. His set included typical things for a DJ such as strobe LED lights and an impressive platform for him to play on. What really popped out what the massive statue on behind him of a horse, similar to his album cover. Not only that, What So Not’s podium was propped up by two monster truck-type tires, all underneath an electronic drum set and laptop.
What So Not ended the night with a bang and his music was as grand as the stage he was performing on. It was great for him to have Duckwrth as an opener and add variety to the tour. I may not be a huge fan of his music but What So Not knows how to put on a show. If you have a chance to see him, I highly recommend it.
On April 30th, 2018 I went to the Cigarettes After Sex Concert that took place in The Observatory North Park. The band consists of: Greg Gonzalez (singer and guitar player), Phillip Tubbs (keyboard), Randall Miller (bass), and Jacob Tomsky (drums). The room filled with silence as the band came on and started playing "Young and Dumb". The dim lights, and quiet room was the perfect atmosphere for listening to Cigarettes After Sex.
During their song Affection, the lights became bright for the first time as they flashed the lights towards and away from the audience. The ambience of the room suddenly changed as Greg Gonzalez talked for the first time after "Each Time You Fall in Love", only to reminisce about his previous experience playing in San Diego. As the concert was coming to an end, they played the song that I was looking forward to the most, "Apocalypse". I remember listening to this song in my room with the lights off and being excited about one day having the chance of listening to it live.
As I stood in the audience listening to the song I couldn’t help but realize the simplicity of the whole band. They say, in music, saying the least with your instrument is sometimes best. In the case for Cigarettes After Sex, I would have to agree. The resonating whole notes being played by the bass, the delay effect on the guitar, and the three piece drum set playing a simple rhythm filled the whole room with this sense of warmness. Cigarettes After Sex played, in my opinion, one of the best sets that I have heard this year.
San Diego is something to behold in the music scene at large. We are always on the perpetual state of being a big music city like that of New York or Los Angeles but we there is always a something hindering it. It is not because San Diego is not full of talented and creative people. I honestly don’t know where to pinpoint it, but I have my theories for a later date. Take for example, bands like Rocket From the Crypt and the scene by them in the 1990’s or more recently, the scenes in San Diego that brought such acts as Crocodiles, Dum Dum Girls, and Wavves. Most acts have to get out of San Diego to truly become successful, going to LA rather than sticking it out here, but for good reason too. This includes the live band I’m covering tonight, Cults, whose members all originate from San Diego. On May 18th, 2018, as things move elliptical, San Diego was treated to a two shows for one night special at the Soda Bar. Cults demonstrates how talented they can be with their blissful pop tunes and also showed the potential San Diego has to be a great city for music.
Cults are a New York based duo which consist of Madeline Follin and Brian Oblivion with San Diego connections. Both originally met in San Diego and with backing members still hailing from San Diego such as Cory Stier, who books at the Soda Bar, and Gabriel Rodriguez from the band Hideout. With their debut album garnering high praise from music journalism such as Pitchfork, they were able to succeed in the early 2010’s but trying to stay relevant in an ever-changing music scene is a difficult task. Their debut consists of innocent pop sounds of 50’s girl groups through the lens of vaguely satirized sounds of being in a cult, hence the name. With their third album Offering, on Sinderlyn Records, the retro sound is replaced with diving head first into pop music. What gone is the cynicism of the religious aspects of Cults, but still having songs such as “Offering”, “Good Religion”, and “With My Eyes Closed?”. The last time they performed in San Diego, Cults played at the Irenic with openers that included Curls, a band formed by Christopher Owens, who also shares a track with Cults called “I Got Your Message”. Interestingly enough, Christopher Owens was raised in a Christian cult called Children of God. Everything comes full circle I guess. On Friday night, Cults played a special two shows in one night gig with Reptaliens for an intimate crowd.
Reptaliens were the openers for Cults and I was excited to see them. The band is signed to Captured Tracks, a sister label of Sinderlyn Records, the label that Cults are signed to. Reptaliens kicked off the show with fog and someone in a ghillie suit arriving to introduce the band to the crowd. The band played many great songs that the crowd were into such as "29 Palms", "If You Want", and my favorite, "666Bus". In the middle of their set, they even had someone in the front of the crowd with a reptile mask on. If I had the chance to come to the second show of the night, I would've just to see them perform again. They were that good. The crowd fed off their performance and the band were ready to play an encore at the end but unfortunately did not have enough time. After Reptaliens great set, everyone was anticipating what Cults had in store.
For the intimate show, Cults embodied the blissful sounds of indie pop from all three of their albums to their adoring fans. Cults were able to utilize a lot of songs from across their discography to keep fans from all of their eras happy. They played songs from their self-titled debut, highlighting a lot of their past singles such as “Oh My God”, “You Know What I Mean”, and a song I forgot I really love, “Bumper”. Their songs can almost be distinguished by the visual projections they were screening in front of them. From the fuzzy television statics that highlighted their album “Static” to plaid designs and swirling hypnotic lines that helped transcend the music. Some of the projections were blocked by people much taller than me but the visual projections created another trippy effect running through the back of people’s hair. The musicianship was very tight and professional from the band. Brian Oblivion’s guitar is as bright and shimmery as ever and was placed really well in the mix. The drums are a big component in Cults’ debut, especially to match the Hal Blaine level orchestration of the pop sound. Luckily, Cory Stier flexed his drumming strengths that the band not only a band with great pop arrangements but a band that with seasoned players as well. Madeline’s vocals are front and center and they are what truly shine in their performance. She sings each song effortlessly that sound as strong as the recordings themselves. Another note, the fans of the matinee performances ranged from ages across the spectrum. It is worth highlighting because live music audience, especially for indie music tend to be in their early 20’s before becoming domesticating to a home life, but here there is a love of music from all ages. This makes the classic pop music sounds of Cults even creditable as they can be enjoyed by anyone. The sight of different age groups at shows reminds me of Twin Peaks and how people there are still seeing incredible music at the Roadhouse from any ages. The show at Soda Bar gives credibility that this is in fact a thing. They end the set with their hit single “Go Outside” from where it all began and rightfully so. The song is as timeless as the era the songs borrows from and with samples from Jim Jones himself, it is the ideal closer for a band called Cults.
In this way, Cults showed the potential of what seasoned musicians can do in San Diego and the strengths of San Diego as a big music city. With the audience lined up for both shows, it can demonstrate how much San Diego enjoys music. The staff at the Soda Bar is consistently great (Shout out to Ryan who works at the front door and is also a San Diego legend). Please also check out Hideout, a San Diego project, who has members playing with Cults currently. I want to thank both Cults and Reptaliens for putting on two awesome shows in one night. I want to also thank Soda Bar for hosting a big San Diego show, especially to Cory Stier who probably had a hand in orchestrating the event. This was a wonderful evening and I look forward to San Diego future and Cults’ career.
On a cool Thursday afternoon in North Park, laughs and smiles were exchanged in the line for Observatory North Park. The name George Ezra was spelled out in block letters on the marquee, and we spotted his opener, Noah Kahan, in the parking lot snapping a couple quick pictures before the show. The sun was going down as people shuffled closer and closer in line, and the chattering dimmed as people made their way into the venue.
After a quick pat-down, we headed inside. For those of you that haven’t had the pleasure of visiting the Observatory North Park, it is a treat on the eyes: red ceilings adorned with ornate golden fixings circa 1939, a deep wide general admission pit, and a romantic haze that settles over the crowd of people.
A roar of the crowd signaled that Noah Kahan was coming up, and he strutted on stage. His dark shoulder-length hair accentuated his soulful guitar-playing. A native Vermontian according to Foundations Music’s website, Kahan has an incredible talent for making you feel yearning and nostalgic and happy. The two songs that stood out to me the most were "Young Blood" and "Sink". "Young Blood", a song written to cheer young ones going through intense changes, has a Mumford & Sons feel to it. "Sink" is a song best accompanied by slow motion montages of couples and falling leaves that revs up with the addition of upbeat marching drums. His songs resonated well with the audience, people swaying and clapping along. How surreal it must be for a man from a 1,000 person town (the same town my great-aunt lives) to be on a world tour!
George Ezra signaled his arrival after Kahan left the stage with a haze of blue lights. His smile lead the way as he introduced himself and his band, his guitar almost seeming a part of him. He paused in between songs to tell stories of how they were made.
I won’t spoil all the secrets for you, but I will tell you that on his train trip around Europe, George Ezra got caught up with three Swedish girls watching the Eurovision song competition, and never made it to his next destination - Budapest. He proceeded to laugh with the audience about how most people would write songs about things they had that they’d give up for love; Ezra instead wrote a song about things he never had - “My house in Budapest /My hidden treasure chest / Golden grand piano / My beautiful castillo” - that he would give up for his love. The crowd would chant his lyrics as he quieted, making for an engaging show.
For his encore, George Ezra performed a unique acoustic cover of "These Days", a song with Rudimental, Jess Glyne, Macklemore, and Dan Capone that has been quickly dominating the UK and global music charts. Ezra’s deep baritone was a welcome addition to this song, as were his trombone players.
The Observatory North Park was the perfect intimate venue for these two acts, and I absolutely loved this concert. I can’t wait to see how both artists grow and mature, as they are both have long careers ahead of them.
Doors: 7 pm / Show: 7:30 pm Doors: 10 pm / Show: 10:30 pm 21+
Reptaliens are playing at the Soda Bar on May 18th! The band, hailing from Portland, is fronted by the husband and wife duo of Cole Browning and Tammy (Bambi) Barnes. Reptaliens’ lyrics are full of references to their interests in cult mentality, transhumanism, and conspiracy theories. The band has evolved from a bedroom-recording project to artists capable of exploring fringe pop culture through their analog synthesizers, electric guitars, melodic bass lines, and Bambi’s lulling vocals.
Cults will be headlining the show. The duo consists of Brian Oblivion and Madeline Follin. Their sound was known to be reminiscent of Motown and other 60’s style pop but has evolved to more grittier and atmospheric. Brian and Madeline met in San Diego at a concert at the House of Blues and both from San Diego. One of the biggest bands in the indie music scene, you must watch them perform at one of the two shows on May 18th!
AMG had the opportunity to speak with Katelyn Tarver over the phone. Katelyn is a singer-songwriter who's already written a #1 hit in the UK and was on the TV show, Big Time Rush. We talk about her influences when she was younger, how red carpets are overrated, and what we can expect from her for the rest of 2018. If you want to hear the full interview then just listen above. .
AMG: Was there a song or album when you were younger that made you want to become a singer?
KT: I'm sure there were a bunch of different influences or things that I would just do that made me want to like sing like Celine Dion and Whitney Houston. Big voices that you would put on and dance around in your living room but I remember back vividly listening to Whitney Houston singing “I Will Always Love You” and singing along to it. You know I'm sure I didn't hit the note really. I felt like I did! I remember running to my mom doing laundry or something and being like “Listen! I hit the note! I can sing it!”. I just remember loving and kind of getting lost in those songs. I felt that’s when I felt in love with music and where it can take you.
AMG: How did you first get into acting? Was it because you moved to LA and you had to because everyone else there basically acts as well?
KT: (Laughs) Not far off from that. I actually always had this love of performing when I was younger in the form of singing. As I got into the industry more, people asked me if I wanted to try acting and I said “Yeah! That seems fun.” As I started auditioning and getting more familiar with it, I really enjoyed it. I got an agent early on thanks to American Juniors and my first real gig was was Big Time Rush and I did some commercial stuff before that. BTR was the first major thing I booked and it was a great experience. It was the best “first” kind of role you would want for where I was at, at the time.
AMG: I feel like you’ve been to red carpet events for almost half your life now.
KT: (Laughs) Don’t remind me.
AMG: Do you think they’re overrated?
KT: Yes. I feel like i’m not the right person to say that as a fact but I would say there’s definitely an element to all these events that feels exciting and gives off that vibe of “This is Hollywood. This is glamour. This is cool.” They’re not that fun most of the time (laughs). I feel like i’m saying the wrong thing but I say that only because there can only be such an idea that if you’re not a part of those events or this industry/glamour/Hollywood. It feels so cool and so exciting but most of the time, you’re going and looking around for someone you know to hang out with. It can be fun but it can also be not that exciting as you thought it would be.
AMG: Your music career started when you were on American Juniors. I think you were 13 around that time which is around middle school age so what type of music were you listening to back then?
KT: In middle school, I was a pop girl. I loved pop music, I loved the radio. I grew up in Georgia and my mom would put on Amy Grant and all these Gospel/Christian contemporary singers when I was young. I loved it but when I got to middle school, I realized my friends were listening to the radio and I never really listened to it. So when I finally turned on the radio and I started listening to Brittany, Christina, N’SYNC, and Backstreet Boys, I loved it like everyone else. That’s still a big influence on why I want to do pop. I remember watching all those artists and going to a N’SYNC concert and it was cool. It was one of my first arena shows so there’s that energy and there’s this magic. I almost get emotional when I go to arena shows (laughs). It’s just the coolest thing I can think of and I guess that’s why i’m trying to do what i’m doing. I definitely listened to pop music and my dad would also put on James Taylor, Carole King, and all these good singer-songwriters so I feel like I have alot of those influences on me as well.
AMG: You mentioned boy bands that influenced you around that time such as N’SYNC and Backstreet Boys. You actually have a connection with the Backstreet Boys, right?
KT: Yeah? I’m curious where this is going.
AMG: Didn’t Howie D used to manage you?
KT: (Laughs) Yeah, he did for a second! That’s so funny. I was working with this other manager at the time and Howie wanted to test the waters and see if managing artists was something he would like to do and develop them. We worked together for a little moment in time and it was a pretty weird, cool full circle moment.
AMG: So your brother, Drew Tarver, is a comedian.
AMG: Does he ever get jealous that you’ve opened up for Jeff Foxworthy?
KT: (Laughs). You’re really bring back some classic moments of my career that even i’ve almost forgotten about. That’s so funny. Maybe he does get jealous that i’ve done that? That was pretty cool. I’m from a small town in Georgia and Jeff Foxworthy came to town so they put me on before him. It’s so funny to think about now but yeah that was interesting. My brother now is a pretty successful in comedy and doing his thing so I don’t think he’s jealous of me. I did give him his start but now he’s spread his wings.
AMG: I heard the name of your fanbase is called the “Tarvernators”?
KT: I have seen that.
AMG: Is that not official?
KT: We can make it official. That’s fine with me. I haven’t given it a ton of thought but I have seen Tarvernators and if they like that, then that’s fine with me.
AMG: I guess it’s official now.
KT: (Laughs) I guess it is. SPREAD. THE. NEWS.
AMG: You’ve progressed so much from your first album, Wonderful Crazy and you’ve come a long way since then. Your latest project is called the Kool Aid EP. What can you tell me about that?
KT: That’ll be coming out later this summer and it’s just going to be new music. I’ve released a couple of songs that’ll be on it. I already released “LY4L” and “Never Fade” and the EP is called Kool Aid because there will be a song called “Kool Aid” on there.
AMG: What can we expect from you for the rest of 2018?
KT: We talked about the EP, i’ll be on the season of HBO’s Ballers, and i’ll be on tour in San Diego, Anaheim, Santa Barbara, LA, and San Francisco. The rest is tbd.
AMG: Anything left to say to the fans?
KT: Thanks for listening to my music and sharing it with your friends and that's really all I can ask for. So I appreciate it.
On April 16th, AMG had the opportunity to interview Ryley Walker, an indie-folk singer who hails from Rockford, Illinois. You’ll get to hear another side of Ryley Walker that has been never seen before. If you want to hear the interview then listen to the audio! Also, read the review of the show Ryley Walker did at the Soda Bar in San Diego below.
Ryley Walker made a triumphant return to San Diego. With a new album on the horizon for the singer-songwriter, Ryley Walker came back to San Diego to perform at the Soda Bar. His album which is set to be released later in May, Deafman Glance, is highly anticipated. I haven’t heard much of Ryley before seeing him live but when I listened to some of his songs on Spotify, my ears were hooked right away. There’s so much realness in his lyrics and his voice is fantastic. Listening to his songs cause me to paint such vivid images in my head of whatever he is singing about. This made me excited to see him perform.
The opener was a band called Ditches. The band was local and actually from Encinitas. Ditches hasn’t performed at Soda Bar in over a year so it was great to see them play there. I found out the band recently released an album back in late April too. Their performance was good but just stuck in my head was the thought of what Ryley’s set was going to be like. I just interviewed Ryley right before his set and he had such insightful answers and a great sense of humor. All of this made me wonder what his performance would be like after seeing his personality was as wonderful as his music.
Ryley Walker walked on to the stage and performed in front of the crowd alone. It was a shame to see him performing without a backing band but at the same time, it was interesting because it felt more intimate. He played many of his fan-favorites such as “The Roundabout” and “Telluride Speed”. The songs featured great guitar work and I my ears could not help but grip to every lyric he was belting out. He had some great banter in between songs as well. He had hilarious stories about the double-edged sword that are breakfast burritos and how he envied how schools in San Diego had outdoor lockers.
A highlight of the night was near the end of his set where he played “Opposite Middle”. It was a very touching song and caused me to come to the conclusion that he was one of the best acts i’ve ever seen at the Soda Bar. I was a bit bummed out that he did not perform one of my favorite songs, “Sullen Mind” but getting to see whole set more than made up for him not performing that song. There was just something about him singing his deeply introspective lyrics on the Soda Bar stage that was captivating. You could not help but ignore everyone surrounding you and just focus on Ryley Walker singing his beautiful songs. Ryley Walker is the real deal, and a treat if you have the opportunity to see him live.
Make sure to listen to his latest album, Deafman Glance, when it is released on May 18th!
One of the breakout artists from 2017, Japanese Breakfast came back to San Diego to perform at The Irenic. After the release of her second record, Soft Sounds from Another Planet, Michelle Zauner (aka Japanese Breakfast), has continued her ascent as a critical darling. Her emotionally-driven songs along with her intimate performances at her live shows makes her someone worth seeing. Even with artists such as King Krule and Big K.R.I.T. playing on the same night in San Diego, Japanese Breakfast delivered.
The openers for the show were And And And and Snail Mail. I ran late to the show and was only able to catch Snail Mail but they were great. I remember seeing the band last year as well when they opened up for Girlpool. I remember talking to them for a little bit after her set and they told me it was their first time in San Diego. I told them to get some Mexican food from a 24/7 spot but I digress. Snail Mail’s set was mainly just emotional and guitar-driven. The crowd swayed to most of her songs and it was great to see how far her and the rest of her band have come. Watching her perform last year while she was still relatively new to touring to now playing at Coachella makes me feel like a proud parent. She ended her set with just a solo performance of her and her guitar.
After Snail Mail’s fantastic set, everyone was now awaiting for the headliner. You can tell everyone was ready to hear Japanese Breakfast sing. She came out to a hooting crowd wearing a beautiful white dress while clutching her guitar. She started off her set with “In Heaven”, off of Psychopomp. “In Heaven” was a fitting song to begin with due to her attire.
After the song was finished, she thanked the crowd for coming out and seemed so grateful. I remember seeing her perform for the first time last year ironically at The Irenic and she was great. I never heard of her before that and it was captivating seeing her sing songs like “Road Head” before it was even released. Watching her perform tonight made me reminisce of seeing her open up for Sandy (Alex G) and just be in awe at how far she has come. She was fresh off of playing at Coachella as well and her anecdotes in between some of her songs were cool to hear.
The crowd did not let her down as they fed off her energy and returned it. When she played “Machinist” off her latest album, Soft Sounds from Another Planet, the crowd was jumping up and down along with her. Things only got more exciting when she played “Roadhead” and the crowd still kept up with her. In the middle of her set, she stated how the show she was playing at San Diego was special to her because her dad flew all the way from Thailand to see her. She even added how she wouldn’t let him go to Coachella so he had to see her in San Diego instead.
The crowd continued to go wild as she sang other fan-favorites of her’s such as “Boyish” and “Diving Woman”. She had great vocal performances throughout her set and you can tell the crowd was enamored by her. One fan even brought her wings and she even ate one onstage. She ended her set with “Everybody Wants to Love You” and it was a fitting since everyone in the crowd seemed to be in love with her.
Japanese Breakfast put on an even more memorable show than when I saw her last. Even when she was singing some songs with the most heartbreaking lyrics, you could not help but sing along with a smile on your face. If you have not seen her live before, I highly recommend it. If your ears are hungry for some good music then Japanese Breakfast will leave them satisfied.