How To Survive Escape Psycho Circus

Attending a music festival is a rite of passage; after an amazing weekend at a Halloween themed festival, it makes sense why everyone should attend at least one music festival in their life.

On the weekend of October 26 & 27th, the National Orange Show Event Center in San Bernardino hosted another year of Insomniac’s Escape Psycho Circus! DJs from the EDM music scene such as Seven Lions, Kaskade, Martin Garrix, Galantis, KSHMR, Diplo, and more, performed over the weekend for attendees.

Escape Psycho Circus is a 2-day music festival that occurs the weekend before Halloween, which is considered to be North America’s largest Halloween Electronic Dance Music Festival & Freak-show. At this music festival, there were 4 stages that you could go to watch your favorite artist, including the Slaughterhouse, Ghoul’s Graveyard, The Chopping Block, and Cannibal’s Tea Party. There were performers spread throughout the festival grounds in order to bring a stronger ambiance of Halloween to all attendees, as well as an interactive section known as the Asylum, for those who are brave enough to enter.

Crowd picture during KSHMR’s set

Being a first timer for Escape Psycho Circus & music festivals in general, I didn’t know what to expect. I’ve only had very few experiences from past concerts I’ve attended throughout the year, but never an event this huge. I’ll start off with a few tips that helped me enjoy the 2-day experience

1. Bring a Camelbak

This may seem like common sense, especially since everyone gets thirsty at any concert, but Camelbaks were a lifesaver. I love drinking water throughout any event so I feel like this was worth purchasing for myself, especially if it can hold more than 2L of water. Depending on the amount your Camelbak can hold, it means less time to refill your backpack and more time to watch your favorite sets for the night.

2. Bring as little as possible

As someone who tends to over-pack for a 2-day trip away from home, this was a tip I took advantage of when heading out to the festival. Only bring the necessities you need for that night. In my case, I only needed a portable charger, hand fan, ID, debit card (for purchases), and a small towel to soak up any sweat from my face. The reason I say this is because your small Camelbak, fanny pack, or small backpack cannot fit more so try to take as little as possible.

3. Always bring a portable charger

There is nothing like going to an event to take squad pictures or videos of your favorite set in the background, and your phone dies. It’s always best to charge your phone to 100% before you leave and always have a portable ready for when you run low on trying to meet up with your lost friends.

4. Bring a totem pole

This tip is vital. I always have experience losing my friends within the crowd of a typical concert. However, if you lose your friends at a music festival as huge as Escape Psycho Circus, you are honestly doing it wrong. It will be very difficult to find them, especially considering the NOS events center has no service once inside the venue. By creating a totem with a symbol, sign, or meme on a 5-8 ft pole, you are able to find your friends with your distinct totem. Plus, this allows for groups to be very creative in how they decorate it.

5. Go with a friend who has gone before

It is best to attend your first music festival with someone who has experienced at the same venue or Insomniac themed events. I was lucky I invited my close friend to show me around & determine a meet up spot in the case that something happens. With that said, it allows for you to explore the festival grounds with someone who can help you find the next stage to go to.

Ferris Wheel featured within festival grounds

Besides these steps, I also have some small lessons for those who are either inexperienced or concerned about any fears.

If you are HIGHLY claustrophobic or develop anxiety attacks from being in crowds, please sit/stand within a safe distance. I discovered over that weekend that I have claustrophobia from being unable to breathe in crowds with little to no room, so I had to step out for one set. Honestly, I believe the main factor could also be the anxiety one develops from their first music festival. But remain cautious.

Remain respectful to everyone attending. We’re all here for the same reason: to watch our favorite DJs and spend time with our friends. Unfortunately, I came across several attendees who were disrespectful by inciting violence & preventing others from enjoying their experience. Don’t be that person in your group who ruins everything for others because you decided to push impolitely through the crowd; most attendees would be glad to help you through. Also, if you are trying to stay with your group by holding onto each other, please do not be the reason you separate their group because you couldn’t remain patient for 1 minute.

Set a budget for purchases inside the festival. I personally love to purchase one item from the merchandise tent at every concert I attend, so I set a budget aside for food, drinks, and merchandise before entering the festival. It’s best to avoid purchasing too many alcoholic drinks (for those who are 21+) due to ridiculous pricing. Also, try not to purchase snacks that you can get back home for a much lower price, especially if you are traveling from another country, city, or state.

Honestly, live in the moment. This lesson goes out to those who are considering attending their first music festival or will be attending one soon. As much as it’s great to take videos & pictures throughout a DJs set, don’t forget to enjoy yourself. I decided to opt out from recording too often & took my group photos beforehand to avoid wasting time. Living the whole experience without having your phone attached to your hands the entire time makes it all worthwhile. Listening to my favorite DJs with my closest friends helped me enjoy my weekend away from home; it’s almost as if attending was my ESCAPE from reality (haha, sorry!).

Overall, I don’t regret attending Escape Psycho Circus because it has prepared me for future music festivals. I understand a majority of festivals can become pricey overtime or have specific artists you may be interested in, but if you are ever given the opportunity to attend one, do it! Though, if you are experiencing FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) & impulsively purchase a ticket, just be cautious of your schedule. Watch out with becoming addicted to music festivals, it’s a hard addiction to beat; I should know!

Written by: Sofia Gomez

Why You Should Hear K-Pop at Least Once

Music is often viewed as an escape from the banality of life. Thankfully, there’s a growing genre everyone seems to be curious about: K-POP.

There’s so much interest within this genre, that fandoms for every possible K-POP group exist. One notable example can be seen in the popularity of the group, BTS. However, several people are asking the same question: what exactly makes K-POP popular, especially to American fans?

K-Pop is influenced by a variety genres and styles, such as Western Pop Music, rock, jazz, reggae, electronic dance, hip hop, rap, Latin, and more. K-POP is essentially a wide variety of music sung in the Korean language. This style of South Korea music originated in the 1940’s, athough the first official group to fit this category is the group, Seo Taiji and the Boys. The three member all-male group was active from 1992-1996, during which they experimented with various styles of music from the West (America). Just as Los Angeles is joined to hip-hop, Seoul is joined to K-POP, as most of the recording and music industries have their buildings within the city.

Fans can thank the internet & social media for increasing the popularity of K-POP to spread worldwide, especially with honorable mentions such as PSY with “Gangnam Style” and BTS “DNA”. Although they have become internationally famous through their songs, there are several other groups that I believe are worth knowing, since they have paved the way for PSY & BTS to become a worldwide sensation.

As an avid K-POP fan of 9 years, I wish is to share a few of my favorite artists that I believe would be great for beginners who are developing an interest in K-POP.

One of the first groups that deserves attention is Girls’ Generation (aka SNSD), a 9 member all-female group as determined by their name. With members Taeyeon, Seohyun, Sooyoung, Jessica, Tiffany, Hyoyeon, Sunny, Yoona, and Yuri, each girl brought something specific to this group such as vocals, dance, visuals (beauty), and rap. Girls’ Generation began their career in 2007 as part of the second generation artists of K-POP. One of their most famous songs online is, “Gee” and “Run Devil Run.” While the group unfortunately does not retain all its original members, due in part to Jessica’s leave in 2014 and certain members’ contracts ending, there still remains 6 active members in this group who recently created the single, “Lil Touch”. I believe that Girls’ Generation paved the way for girl groups, since their empowering style is an obvious influence found in many following groups.

Another group whose popularity I’d like to acknowledge is Super Junior, due to their influence on the male groups in K-POP. Super Junior originally started as a 13 member male group, but debuted with 12 members. Through their active time as a group, there have been 5 different units created for Super Junior to allow members to do projects in smaller groups within the official 12 members. However, over time this group has decreased to 8 active members: Leeteuk, Heechul, Yesung, Shindong, Eunhyuk, Donghae, Siwon and Ryeowook. A few of their greatest hits include “Sorry Sorry”, “Mr. Simple”, and their most recent release, “One More Time (Otra Vez).” One reason I chose to highlight them is because their music style has begun to shift towards a Latin influence, as they’ve begun collaborating with artists such as Leslie Grace & Reik. With this new collaboration of Hispanic/Latino music and Korean Pop, there is definitely going to be a rise in popularity for this group in the near future.

Additionally, I’d like to shout out Hyuna, a solo artist who has demonstrated her dedication to her singing career despite being embattled in the middle of a controversial issue in Korea. She started her singing career as a trainee for the group Wonder Girls in the late 2000s, but went on to become an official member of the girl group, 4Minute, from 2009-2016. As the main rapper & dancer of the group, she rose to fame with her unique on-stage personality. She had released solo projects on the side such as songs like, “Change” and “Bubble Pop.” Once 4Minute disbanded in 2016, she continued to follow her solo career and releasing songs like “Lip & Hip” & “Babe”. She was also part of the trio Triple H with two members from the group, Pentagon, Hui & E’Dawn.

Unfortunately, just a month ago, her company, Cube Entertainment, decided to release a statement online about removing her due to her secret relationship with Triple H member E’Dawn because of a strict no dating policy. Though they retract their statement by stating it was not officially confirmed, she decided to leave the company with E’Dawn so that they can be free to date without a company destroying their feelings for each other. I have hope that she will continue to succeed without Cube Entertainment holding her back.

Now, of course, as a fan of 9 years, there is one group I hold in higher regard than any other. The girl group 2NE1 will forever remain my favorite for one sole reason: their love towards their fans.

2NE1 formed officially in 2009 and remained active until 2016. This girl group stands out above other 2nd generation artists as they were considered the “girl crush” type of style in their performances. The members include CL the main rapper, Bom Park as main vocals, Dara as the overall visuals of the group, and Minzy the main dancer. One of their most viewed songs on YouTube is “I Am The Best”, which will seem familiar as most commercials have featured this song for electronic products. During their active years, they had their own show called 2NE1 TV, where they allowed fans in to see their bond with each other behind the scenes from their busy lives as artists. 2NE1 also competed for MTV Iggy’s Best New Band in 2011 & won this title where they were able to perform their music for fans worldwide on MTV.

Unfortunately, when the member Bom Park’s name started appearing in the news for a controversial scandal involving medication and being prescribed them in a different country that doesn’t follow South Korea’s laws, the girl group fell into a hiatus for about a year and then appeared in the 2015 MAMA Awards in South Korea for what would be the last appearance as a group. A few months later, the girls officially announced their disbandment, and ended their time together with their heartbreaking song, “Goodbye”.

Since this group had been my favorite for years, it broke my heart…to the point where it almost felt like I was going to quit my interest in K-POP. But being part of this fan-base reminded me that, even though they are no longer together as a group, we should still support them in their solo endeavors. As of right now, CL is trying to debut as an artist in America, Bom has made a recent appearance in the Netflix show YG Future Strategy Office and has been teasing a possible comeback, Minzy is a solo artist who just graduated university, and Dara is back home in the Philippines doing talk shows & traveling the world.

As a K-POP fan, I can wholeheartedly tell you that the dedication you put towards the genre goes a long way into helping you connect with not only the artists, but the culture surrounding the genre.

With that said, there’s actually a lot more that goes into supporting an artist’s music. Of course, you an buy merchandise from trusted sites or shops, attend K-Con Los Angeles or New York for an ultimate K-POP experience, and create forums to connect with other fans around the world. Honestly, just being an international fan allows you to gain so much respect for the artist and their dedication to become a well-known sensation. There’s so much heart and soul that goes into the music and choreography alone, that fans are willing to make the artist has taken the time to take care of themselves. They will even ensure that an artist eaten or slept enough before seeing them live.

Overall, I recommend that everyone jump into the so-called “bandwagon” and show your support for the K-POP community. It’s amazing to see that K-Pop as a whole is finally being represented in the United States with plenty of support from American celebrities. One thing is for certain; K-Pop won’t be fading away anytime soon.

Written by: Sofia Gomez

Hoodie Allen at the House of Blues San Diego

Hoodie Allen brought fun, food, and games alongside a fantastic set at the San Diego House of Blues!

The House of Blues San Diego welcomed rapper Hoodie Allen for his Hanging with Hoodie Tour 2018 on Friday, September 21, 2018. This tour allowed all fans who purchased a general admission ticket to meet Hoodie Allen at no cost, as well as releasing VIP tickets for dedicated and long-time fans. The small and intimate venue was decorated to highlight the carnival theme of this tour with circus games, raffle tickets, and prizes for fans to enjoy.

To start off the show, the opening act, Gianni & Kyle, energized the crowd with a few of their popular songs like, “5 Shots” and “Do You Even Miss Me At All?”. The duo’s 45 minute set allowed fans to build up enough adrenaline to prepare for their favorite headliner, Hoodie Allen.

Kyle of the rap duo, Gianni and Kyle, singing to the crowd

 

Gianni of the rap duo, Gianni and Kyle, patting his chest while following along to their song, “Do You Even Miss Me At All?”

 

Now, as an absolute “super-fan” of Steven Markowitz (aka Hoodie Allen), I had to opt in for the VIP purchase to get the ultimate experience. With the purchase of VIP, fans are able to take photos with the artist, obtain a signed Polaroid photo memento, receive a drawstring bag with small goodies from the tour, get the opportunity to purchase merchandise first, and were given “first dibs” for standing in the front row when the artist performs. Based on my experience, I was very pleased with the organization of this concert, including Hoodie Allen’s very respectful crew. I was able to talk to him in-between photos and, to my surprise, he even remembered me from the last time I saw him back in 2016.

Front row view before Hoodie Allen performs

Before the set, I had the pleasure of noting that this particular fan base was incredibly friendly. And contrary to typical concerts, their was not a single form of violence or negative behavior even suggested . Everyone amongst the crowd, including myself, made new friends and discussed how long they had been fans of Hoodie Allen. Based on my quick survey with the fans around me, a majority of fans wanted to hear Hoodie perform his 2012 single, “No Interruption.”

When the show began, I’ll admit, I had my own “fan-girl” moment and started screaming in excitement when he began his performance with his 2012 single, “Eighteen Cool;” a song which set the tone his the remainder of the night. Considering the fact that this venue was intimate enough to fit approximately 150-200 fans, concert-goers were consistently able to get clips and photos throughout his set. Additionally, two of the songs which Hoodie performed came straight from his new EP that will be announced & released sometime this year; the tracks, “Wasting All My Time” and “Operation”, were performed for the very first time on this tour in preparation for the release of his as-of-yet unnamed EP. As the night continued, he performed the short version of older tracks such as, “The Chase Is On”, “James Franco”, and “You Are Not Robot”.

Hoodie Allen talking to fans and crew about what song should be played next

In addition to performing, Hoodie Allen included multiple interactive event for fans to participate in. For this show, Hoodie Allen brought out some games for fans to play. The first game had fans spinning his carnival wheel, which allowed 1 lucky fan to determine which bonus song would be performed on this leg of the tour. For San Diegans, the wheel landed on the song, “Show Me What You’re Made Of”, which brought immense happiness to his older fans. He also included a trivia buzzer game, where two fans competed one-on-one on their knowledge about the the artist; the prize being Hoodie Allen caking the loser of the trivia game.

Now, if you are not educated on the Hoodie Allen tour traditions, here’s a fun fact for you. Fans will purchase cakes and decorate them to give to Hoodie’s backstage crew for one sole reason: to throw them into the audience during the show. This tradition started because of Hoodie’s well-known song, “Cake Boy,” which later lead to fans preparing ahead of time to avoid getting cake all over them.

As we have all learned over-time, all concerts must come to an end with the most popular song the artist has released. To my surprise, Hoodie Allen performed two encore songs to ensure this concert ended at an all-time high. The songs, “No Faith in Brooklyn” and “No Interruption” were the absolute best song choices to end Hoodie’s San Diego tour stop.

Overall, I was very happy with my experience seeing my favorite artist, Hoodie Allen, perform once again in San Diego. The atmosphere remained positive all night long thanks to the fans’ respect towards the artist and one another. Anyone whose interested in listening to an up-and-coming artist should definitely give Hoodie Allen a chance. Hopefully he’ll make you a forever fan as well.

Reviewed by: Sofia Gomez
Photos by: Sofia Gomez