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.

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.

 

 

 

 

King Tuff Makes the Casbah His Kingdom

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.

Setlist
The Other
Raindrop Blue
Circuits in the Sand
Birds of Paradise
Unusual World
Thru the Cracks
Psycho Star
Ultraviolet(new song)
Freak When I’m Dead
Neverending Sunshine
Infinite Mile
No Man’s Land

Encore
Eyes of the Muse
Sun Medallion
Bad Thing

Of Montreal Concert Review

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 Melts Down the Casbah

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.

 Here are some polaroids from the show.

Here are some polaroids from the show.

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Concert Review: Lauren Ruth Ward Rocks the Soda Bar

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!

Concert Review: What So Not's Beautiful Things Tour

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.


 

Concert Review: Cigarettes After Sex

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.

Don't Join Any Cults But You Should See Them Live

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.

Concert Review: George Ezra at The Observatory North Park

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.

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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.

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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.

Ryley Walker Concert Review & Interview

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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!

Seeing Japanese Breakfast Live Makes You Feel Like You're In Heaven

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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.

You Will Always Have Fun at an Alvvays Show

 Photo: Reddit (u/BertMacklinMD)

Photo: Reddit (u/BertMacklinMD)

On April 18th, Alvvays came to San Diego to perform at The Music Box. The band released their critically-acclaimed sophomore album, Antisocialites, back in September and came to town after performing at Coachella a week before. Alvvays has always been a band i I have heard much about and after finally listening to them through Antisocialites, I was immediately enamored with them. Normally with indie pop bands live, you will have an enjoyable time but nothing usually stands out between seeing them in-person and listening to their album. Alvvays was an exception.

Despite the show being on a Wednesday night in Downtown San Diego, the show was sold out. I do not go to The Music Box too often so my friend taught me a concert hack and took me to the balcony section on the third floor of the venue, which I thought was only for VIPs previously. The opener was Frankie Rose and her sound was reminiscent of the 80’s. Her songs sounded like a mix between synth pop and new wave. At first, I was not too much into her set but soon I got into it as well as the crowd.


Alvvays came on fifteen minutes after and I was wondering how their music would be live. Their sounds on their albums were full of echoing vocals and distant instruments but that doesn’t seem to translate well live. The band started off by playing “Hey” and then followed with “Adult Diversion”. They were fun songs and got the crowd dancing around. I was hooked onto their set after they played “In Undertow”, one of my absolute favorite songs from them with this video being a main reason why.

The banter in between some songs were just fantastic too. Molly Rankin, the lead singer, had the crowd laughing with her talking about how she wouldn’t want to be a tortoise because they can’t swim. She even talked about how she saw a rabbit eating by her hotel’s swimming pool. The crowd definitely helped energize the band and Molly even commented how the crowd has the energy of a “Friday crowd” despite the show being on Wednesday.

One of my favorite moments of the night was when the band played “Marry Me, Archie” as I watched atop from the balcony and the whole crowd is just jumping up and down while some were even moshing. The song is another one of my favorites and it just sounds incredible live compared to the studio version. It was a memorable show and this concert solidified my love for the band even more. If you have the chance to see Alvvays, you need to take it.

Up in the Cosmos at Queen Bee's

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It has only been less than a year and Frankie Cosmos has graciously returned to San Diego for another show. This time she is back with her new album, Vessels, through Sub Pop records. A band with years of hype and now on a major indie label (oxymoron) could fall into the pressure of needing to sound grandeur but instead she has consciously chosen to refine her sound for this release. A bold move in itself to the internet hype cycle that a band can fall into. I have seen Frankie Cosmos last summer, which was a great show but I am getting the feeling she didn’t like San Diego.  There was a feeling of frustration for the audience who was very rowdy and moshing at the show. It’s very understandable on her part because sometimes mosh pit can be unwanted by the other audience members and it pushes people who aren’t moshing to the back or the side who don’t want to get injured. This time around, a lot of growth has and maturity has happened for Frankie Cosmos. They have a new album on Sup Pop records, Vessels, to tour behind and they have brought two bands, Lomelda and Ian Sweet in support of them. Frankie Cosmos had returned to a sold out show at Queen Bees and they have never sounded so powerful.

Before I get into covering the show, I want to bring up how unintentionally perfect Queen Bee’s was as a venue for this show. I think the show was originally billed to be at the Quartyard, but was changed to Queen Bee’s. When walking in, the mood was already set with purple lighting which matched the front woman Greta Kline’s guitar. The stage looked like one for an auditorium for a middle school dance. That was very fitting to the intimacy and the honesty of the music.

The band opened with “Carmelized” which doubles as the opener to the album. There is nothing flashy about the band. They are dressed modestly and preferred to look at their instruments than at the crowd. This is not because they aren’t confident in their music but they’re focus in a very amicable way. Though the band was radiating coy energy, their sound was as big as ever. The simplicity of the pop instrumentation is direct and to the point. It is beautiful as it is, without having to beat around the bush or anything. Some highlights for me were “Alive” when the band backs up the chorus, which also includes singer of Lomelda who is touring with them. They end the set with “Too Dark” off their previous release, “Next Thing.” The set was beefed with a lot of songs, but knowing how daunting her discography is, left hardcore fans a little more to be desired. All in all, it was another wonderful performance from Frankie Cosmo. Ian Sweet and Lomelda played equally great sets and its really cool to see a such a great lineup touring together. I thank the Soda Bar for booking such a great show to San Diego. I also want to recognize the venue Queen Bee’s which an amazing staff that were very accommodating to the audience as well as to all the bands.

Seeing Soccer Mommy Live Was Cool

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Who says you can’t raise hell on a Monday night? Yes it’s the return to the work week and people have to endure the hard transition to that. But the weekend fun doesn’t have to end. On Monday night of April 9, Soccer Mommy with touring support from Madeline Kenney played rock music to soothe our weeknight blues. The show interestingly enough was originally set to be at the all ages venue, the Che Café, but most likely due to construction, it had moved to the Soda Bar.

With that being said, the audience was really quite noteworthy due to its wide range in age diversity. I can see fresh faced 21 year olds to people who were as old as 50. This is a testament to how diverse Sophie Allison’s band, Soccer Mommy’s fan base truly is. She seemed surprised by it too.

The Nashville native donned the stage at ten o’ clock on a Monday night to a full crowd.  With her checkerboard strap, she literally wears her influences as she and the rest of the band open with “Last Girl.” It was a really strong opener and shows the vibrancy of the band. The band is really professional and concise; it’s worth noting all of their names as well. Julian, who plays the lead guitar, was really an instrumental (heh) part of the show as well as the recordings. On bass was Gram, who was the band’s anchor and Gabe on drums too.

They played their hits, “Your Dog” and “Flaw” which harkened back to the overdriven guitar sounds of 2000s alternative rock. I always think that “Your Dog” is the answer to the proto punk, “I Wanna Be Your Dog” for obvious reasons. There is a great banter between Sophie Allison and the audience all throughout the night. It could have been easily a sleepy audience, ready to go to work early in the morning, but the audience were such willing participants of the show. Sophie is a naturally funny person and it’s easy to understand how her songwriting reflects that as well. Someone in the crowd shouts that they couldn’t wait to see them open for Liz Phair in Boston.

She seemed both modest and confused about how dedicated her fans really were. The night was full of surprises as the band steps down for her to do her some solo songs. The first song was a Bruce Springsteen cover, “I’m on Fire,” which got a humorous reaction from the audience. As she announces the Bruce Springsteen song, everyone was cheered for it but someone booed.

“Did someone just booed for Bruce Springsteen?” she asked.

One audience member jokingly says, “No, they were saying Boo-ruce.”

With only guitar and vocals, she carried the song quite beautifully. The strip down sound was showed full range of her talents as she could have done the whole set this way and the audience would still be pleased. For her last song, she asked the band to come back for “Scorpio Rising” to finish the set. There is an appreciation to how climatic she builds her song list set with rise and fall like the plot to a Hollywood movie. After the song, the audience calls for an encore with much enthusiasm she obliged. She plays one more solo song, this time her transformation is complete as she is slowly turns into Avril Lavinge with her cheetah print top and the checkerboard strap on her guitar to complete the look.

All in all a strong Monday night show from the Soda Bar. The opener, Madeline Kenney, really set the mood. They will be back again in the summer to open for Wye Oak at the Soda Bar. I really appreciate the female fronted lineup that reinforces the notion that women have rocked and have been rocking since its conception. Monday night shows are not a bad idea, it’s nice to have time to listen to music and reflect about the day as one listens to music. Who says you can’t raise hell on a Monday night?

Dumbfounded at Dumbfoundead’s Show

There is no better way to start off your week than with a concert. That’s exactly what I did on Monday, April 2nd, as Korean-American artist Dumbfoundead came to San Diego for his Yikes Tour at Soma. In front of a packed crowd at Soma’s side stage, the openers were Manila Grey. The duo consists of two childhood Filipino-Canadian rappers who showed the crowd why they were worthy of opening up for Dumbfoundead. Neeko and Soliven were skillful on the mic and were able to appease the audience with their charisma and the way they performed on stage. The duo performed only a few tracks but the most memorable ones were "Timezones" and "Youth Water".

North Carolina rapper, G Yamazawa, was up next and straight up brought some heat for his set. It only took a few minutes for the crowd to realize that the rapper came to make a statement. His set consisted songs that were full of political issues, cracks about his Japanese ethnicity, and experiences from his life. Before he was a rapper, G Yamazawa was a professional poet and you can tell as his set consisted of some interesting renditions of covers along with his songs. Even after he finished his set, the crowd was still ready for the main event.

For the people that don’t know, Dumbfoundead is a legend in the Asian-American hip-hop scene. I remember first finding him on YouTube and being blown away by his skills. He doesn’t have the appeal of other rappers like Kendrick Lamar or Drake but that does not make his work any less significant as a rapper. Dumbfounded is a trailblazer who has inspired so many Asian artists in not just the hip-hop scene but in the entire music industry. Without him, rappers like Rich Brian, Kevin Ape, and Nav, may not be able to break onto the scene. We have Dumbfoundead to thank for his part in the creation of 88rising and the influence he has had with his past in the battle rap scene.

With his reputation for those that know of him, the crowd was willing and ready to get wild once he came on to the stage. I was able to get in because I was press but the rest of the crowd got their money’s worth with what the Korean-American rapper performed for his set. Dumbfoundead performed the songs off his latest EP, Rocket Man, while also providing some of his trademark humor. The way he worked the crowd on stage was reminiscent of a comedian and showed he could had the ability to connect with the audience with other ways than just his music. Although, his music played a big part on why the crowd came to see him at Soma. After he finished up his set, the crowd unsurprisingly shouted for an encore and Dumbfoundead obliged. He came back for an encore but made sure he gave the crowd a night to remember. He brought out his first openers, Manila Grey and many others. The encore was full of energy and hype and made this writer ready to come again when Dumbfoundead performs next time in San Diego.

It's Not Almost Everyday You Get to See Matt And Kim Live

 Photos: Christian Hill ( @Christianhillphotos )

Photos: Christian Hill (@Christianhillphotos)

On April 9th, Matt and Kim came to perform in San Diego at The Observatory North Park. On April 9th, I had some of the most fun i’ve ever had at a concert. The indie-electronic duo headlined a sold-out show with openers, TWINKIDS and CRUISR. I admit, I was never the biggest fan of Matt and Kim. Of course, I loved their song “Daylight” but seeing them live with all the energy and everything they incorporated into their set made me become a huge fan.

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Matt and Kim came out to a roaring crowd who were awaiting them to go on stage. The pair started off right away with their song, “It’s Alright”. Right away, I was captivated by how the instant they came on to the stage, they were just full of energy. The energy was infectious too as the crowd got rowdy as Matt and Kim did. Early off in the set, Kim was dancing and standing on top of her chair and just feeding off the energy of the crowd. 

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Despite the concert being on a Monday, the crowd was more of a weekend crowd. Matt and Kim were playing song after song and the crowd did not relent and was still matching their energy. Not even at punk shows have I ever seen so many people crowd surf before. Matt and Kim made sure the crowd was very involved as well by bringing balloons, blow-up dolls, and even an inflatable lounge chair for someone in the audience to crowd surf on. One of my favorite moments of the concert was the duo asking the crowd to separate into two sides in order to do the wall of death. 

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They closed off the show by playing everyone’s favorite song, “Daylight” and just seeing everyone in the crowd dancing and singing along to them playing was just an amazing thing to see. Matt and Kim said goodbye but came back for an encore and ended the night perfectly. When they played “Let’s Go”, confetti and balloons dropped from the ceiling and ended what was one of the best concerts i’ve ever seen. 

Make sure to see them on the rest of their tour and make sure to listen to their album, “Almost Everyday”, when it comes out in May!
 

I Wish Kate Nash's Concert Lasted Forever

 Photo: Twitter ( @Katenash )

Photo: Twitter (@Katenash)

While it’s been over ten years since the release of Kate Nash’s smash hit, “Foundations”, she’s still good as she was back then. Hailing from across the pond from the UK, the singer-songwriter is an international star.  Already releasing three previous albums, it was exciting to finally get into her music and see her perform in my home town. Coming off the release of her fourth album, Yesterday Was Forever, Kate Nash came to San Diego to perform at the Observatory North Park in San Diego on April 12th.

Kate Nash kicked off the show by playing “Play” off her iconic debut album, Made of Bricks. It was great finally able to hear some of the songs off the album live. You can tell she’s worked hard to develop herself to perform as well as she has on stage and her experience definitely showed. Kate Nash as so young when she she released Made of Bricks so it was great to see how much she has grown as a performer since then. 

She’s a treat to see live and I highly recommend seeing her if you can. The new songs show how Nash has evolved as an artist since her debut. "Foundations”, is fantastic to hear live and her newer songs really connected with the crowd. Kate Nash is a hell of a performer. She was playing the guitar and piano during her entire set but still kept the crowd involved by talking with them. She has such a relatable and friendly personality that was refreshing to see when you’re watching someone perform live. 

She has such a fantastic singing voice but whether she is singing, rapping, screaming, you cannot help but recognize how talented and gifted Kate Nash is.You can tell why this show was sold out because everyone in the crowd were loyal fans of her’s or just loved her music. It’s easy to see why people love Kate Nash and it’s amazing to see how she has continued to improve as a singer and performer. If you want to have a good time while listening to good music, Kate Nash is a safe bet to have both.