We Can Survive at the Hollywood Bowl

Each year during mid-October, radio station 97.1 Amp Radio hosts a benefit concert at the Hollywood Bowl for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

They collect donations and $2 from each ticket sold benefits the Young Survival Coalition, which is an organization that supports young women diagnosed with breast cancer. This year was the Sixth Annual “We Can Survive” concert with performances by Shawn Mendes, Charlie Puth, Ella Mai, G-Eazy, Khalid, Marshmello, Meghan Trainor, NF and Tyga.

     

        

The concert lasted approximately four and a half hours, with nine artists scheduled to perform. Altogether, the performers spanned multiple genres of music, including rap, pop, R&B, EDM, and more. Instead of focusing on the artists individually, I want to tell you more about the experience of sitting front row at such a large venue.

I’ve been lucky enough to attend this amazing concert four years in a row, and the past three times I’ve won upfront seats on the radio. The first year I won, I had third row seats and access to a private pre-show to watch the radio station interview the artists. Last year, I had front row seats and got to meet Harry Styles. This year, I had first row seats, which situated me in front of the barricade, where I could physically touch the stage and reach all the artists. And let me tell you – once you’re front row – you really can’t go back. But regardless of where you’re seated, this remains one of the very best concerts of the year. Even experiencing the concert from the back-most row is worth it, as you’re still able to witness all these extremely talented artists.

Meeting Bebe Rexha at the 2016 We Can Survive Pre-Party

 

Meet and Greet with Harry Styles at We Can Survive 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While sitting front row at a concert, you get a completely different experience; You get the chance to personally interact with your favorite artists, including making eye contact, or even being serenaded to. And if you’re lucky enough, you can even catch a guitar stick from Brad Paisley’s drummer, or snag a setlist after the show.

The first thing you’re surprised about when you’re sitting up close at a concert is that you can see ALL the features on the artists, including the sweat on their face! It’s harder to notice these fine details when you’re sitting far away, or looking at them through the screen. However, if you’re not jamming out and having a good time, the artist may not notice you. During Khalid’s set, after he stopped right in front of me, I got his attention through singing “Another Sad Love Song” as loudly as I could. I knew this tactic would be especially effective, since other people at the concert weren’t likely to know the song as well as some of his bigger hits. Fortunately, he noticed, pointed to me, and sang to me directly.

          

Another way we got attention was by putting our hands up and throwing our energy out anytime they came anywhere near us – through this we were able to touch nine different artists (Charlie Puth, Meghan Trainor, Shawn Mendes, Tyga, Chris Brown, G-Eazy, and Anthony Russo)! The thrill of being cut after touching Chris Brown’s  hand since his ring was so sharp was a moment I’ll probably never forget. The excitement of being cut by hundreds of thousands of dollars of diamonds is an immense one! I also managed to catch G-Eazy’s sweat towel (which sounds gross, but I like to think of it as a souvenir from this experience) and make eye contact with many of my favorite artists.

        

Finally, it’s so cool to see these people who you look up to and listen to in person, where you can see their every move on stage, when suddenly, the realization that they’re actually real people too comes. Overall the front row experience is surreal, and easily ranks among one of the best night of my life, making the experience something I’ll never forget. I would recommend everyone be in the pit or front row at some point in their lives, as long as they are truly passionate about the artist they’re seeing, since it’ll make the experience way more fun and memorable.

I would also highly recommend the We Can Survive concert for everyone; they always have surprises and a variety of artists, the Hollywood Bowl is one of the nicest venues in LA, and it’s all for a great cause. Overall, you can’t beat that!

     
   
Review By: Ally Will
Photos By: Ally Will

FIDLAR at the Observatory North Park

FIDLAR is Zac Carper, Max Kuehn, Elvis Kuehn, and Brandon Schwartzel

FIDLAR brought their loud, SoCal skate punk sound to the Observatory North Park; never-ending moshpits ensued

FIDLAR kicked off the west coast leg of their fall North American tour on October 18th, 2018 here in San Diego at the Observatory North Park. Supporting the Los Angeles punk rock band on this leg were Toronto’s Dilly Dally and Southern California’s The Side Eyes. This would be my first time seeing FIDLAR live, and it absolutely exceeded my expectations.

The Side Eyes had already begun their set when I entered the venue around 8:00. If you consider yourself a punk purist and like the short, hard, and fast songs of the classic punk genre, this is the band for you. Their opening set wasn’t very long, but they managed to get through a surprisingly high number of songs in a short time. The in-your-face attitude of lead singer Astrid McDonald and the band’s energetic stage presence got the mosh pits circling early on in the night.

Dilly Dally was up next, and they offered something different from both The Side Eyes and FIDLAR. The four-piece from Toronto, Ontario (hello, fellow Canadians) have a slower, grungier vibe, and their sway-inducing songs were a pleasant break for us to recharge before the headliner. Their mellower sound didn’t put us to sleep by any means, as mosh pits were still going strong behind me throughout their set.

As Dilly Dally concluded and the stage setup for FIDLAR began to take shape (stacks of old televisions emblazoned with “FIDLAR” in red on their screens, a matching backdrop unveiled at the back of the stage), the crowd began to move in towards the barricade at the front of the stage. Eventually, I ended up dead center and in roughly the second row. I lightheartedly mentioned to my friend that if I had come to the show alone, I definitely wouldn’t be this close, lest I end up sandwiched between tall, sweaty dudes and unable to get out (or see anything). He responded that if that was the case, then I should probably just get out now because he wouldn’t be protecting me. Well, okay. I guess I was on my own. I had flashbacks to my near-death experience at the Frights’ show at the Observatory in August, and braced myself for an even rowdier crowd.

Shortly after, FIDLAR took the stage to an eruption of cheers. They launched right into “Alcohol”, released earlier this year, which sent the crowd into a frenzy. An absolutely perfect opener, with vocalist Zac Carper’s angry, screaming delivery; the unapologetic, “fuck it” attitude of the verses (“And I feel okay and get the fuck out my way/And did you think I wanna hear what you have to say?”), and the eardrum-blasting chorus. I managed to hold my own in the crush of already-sweaty fans, jumping along with them and periodically extracting my ponytail from getting pinched between shoulders. “No Waves,” a track off the band’s self-titled debut record, was met with an even greater energetic response.  I stayed up front for the next two songs before heading back into the actual mosh pit. Being squished in the front is fun for a little while, but I think FIDLAR’s music is best experienced with the ability to jump around and push people.

About halfway through the set, Zac calmed us down for a moment to address something he had been noticing at shows: “sexual harassment, motherfuckers – not cool!”

He proceeded to give the audience permission to punch anyone who was “fucking with [us]” in the face. This was met with loud cheers and nods of approval from everyone in the crowd. Next, Zac proclaimed that there was “too much dick on the dance floor”, and ordered one of the staples of a FIDLAR show: the girls-only mosh pit.

I had been waiting for this. I am a girl, I am a fan of FIDLAR, and I enjoy mosh pits when I don’t feel like someone is going to (accidentally, I think) punch me in the face. This was my time to shine. We girls moved in towards the stage, and the band gave us “Stoked and Broke” for our moment of punk rock girl power. If you ask me, there were still too many dicks in the pit, but what can you do?

New songs from the band’s forthcoming third record, Almost Free, including “Too Real” and “Can’t You See” were well-received by the crowd; everyone already seemed to know the words to “Can’t You See,” a song which had been released less than a week prior. Additionally, FIDLAR played through their well-known favorites, including party anthems “Wake Bake Skate,” “40oz. On Repeat,” and “Cheap Beer.” One of the band’s best attributes is that they know how to cater to the crowd.

As the night (ironically) wound down to “Cocaine,” no one looked any worse for wear. Sure, we were all dripping sweat, shirts had been torn, and phones were lost. Countless shoes had been held up throughout the night as good-natured moshers did their duty to try to locate their owners. And yeah, my friend did have someone else’s blood on his shirt, but you know what? It was all in good fun. This was a FIDLAR show after all, and if you left in the same condition that you came, did you even have fun?

Written by: Andrea Renney

Shannon and the Clams & Tropa Magica at the Belly Up Tavern

Shannon and the Clams showcased some garage doo-wop dance tunes to the Belly Up Tavern after Tropa Magica brought the house down.

The Belly Up Tavern played host to an unofficial pre-Desert Daze showcase on October 10th, featuring Oakland’s Shannon and the Clams and East Los Angeles’s Tropa Magica (formerly Thee Commons). Shannon and the Clams had been touring for much of 2018 when Tropa Magica decided to join them for a few bouts in the west. That night, both bands were joined by San Diego’s own Spooky Cigarette. Thankfully, each group brought something different for the Wednesday night crowd.

The Belly Up is a venue that’s worth the half-hour drive to Solana Beach. It’s big enough for touring bands to choose it over something smaller in San Diego, like the Casbah (another good venue in its own right), but still intimate enough for a disco ball over the dance floor. The heavy use of wood paneling throughout the space gives a homey, neighborhood bar-feel to the venue. Additionally, there’s a large shark suspended over one of the bars, with glowing red eyes staring eerily into the crowd. For an October show, the venue worked perfectly. It’s spooky season, baby!

First up on the Belly Up’s cozy stage (no barricades or front-row security here) was Spooky Cigarette. Beginning promptly at nine o’clock, they played a short, twenty-minute set as the 21+ crowd began filling the floor. Spooky Cigarette’s mellow, synth-heavy sound was well-received, while their style oozed Halloween vibes.

After what felt like an abnormally long delay, Tropa Magica took the stage and instantly got the crowd moving. The self-proclaimed “psychedelic cumbia punk” four-piece from East LA is known for their energetic live shows, so much so that LA Weekly praised them by declaring “if [they] aren’t the best live band in Los Angeles, they’re damn near the top.” The band played for roughly forty-five minutes, showcasing some songs from their debut, self-titled record released just last month. At the end of their set, they invited two fans on stage to play the tambourine and the cowbell – I believe it was a cowbell. In any event, the two appeared to be having the time of their lives. As the band exited the stage around half-past ten, it was clear that I wasn’t the only one who had been blown away by Tropa Magica’s performance; their music, stage presence, and energy coalesced into a truly remarkable set.

I think part of the reason why Tropa Magica seemed like the highlight of the night to me is that expectations for opening bands are typically quite low. Usually, opening bands fail to resonate that deeply with audiences, since most are likely to be there solely for the headliner. Fortunately, this was not the case with Tropa Magica. After hearing just a few songs, I was immediately making mental notes to see them again.

It was close to eleven o’clock when Shannon and the Clams finally took the stage, looking every bit what you’d expect from a band that blends ‘50s doo-wop and ‘60s garage rock – slim-cut pantsuits, pinafore dresses, and a sparkly bass guitar all included. If I had any concerns about whether they’d struggle to follow up an act as captivating and, to put it simply, as fun as Tropa Magica, they were quickly alleviated.

Opening with “The Boy,” the first track from the band’s sixth studio album, Onion, released earlier this February, Shannon and the Clams kept us grooving along to their songs about love and heartbreak for the duration of their set. Bass player Shannon Shaw and guitarist Cody Blanchard alternated vocal duties throughout the night, although perhaps some didn’t even notice – to quote a woman in the crowd at Shannon and the Clams’ 1:15 AM Desert Daze set three days after this show, “They have, like, the exact same voice! I’m really drunk, but they have the EXACT same voice!”. Credit is due solely to Shaw, though, for giving the best (and only, but still) rendition of White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane that I’ve ever heard.

The band featured a majority of their discography, including favorites such as “Ozma” from 2013’s Dreams in the Rat House. After finishing their set around midnight, I immediately made a mental note to see them again – after all, their set was filled with irresistibly danceable songs. And I’m very glad I made that note, since I otherwise would never have been able to be a part of that riveting discussion about the vocal similarities between the band’s vocalists.

Review By: Andrea Renney

Florence + The Machine at Viejas

 

To simply call Florence + The Machine’s performance unforgettable is an understatement.

Kicking off their “High as Hope” tour, the band brought to old fans and new fans alike a raw and riveting show, all at the Viejas Arena. The concert was opened by Kasami Washington and his crew, immersing the audience into the night with some soulful jazz. Between his songs, Washington shared some words of wisdom and encouraged people to see the beauty in diversity and the importance of culture. Washington said, “We do not tolerate our differences. We celebrate them.” Washington’s message aligned beautifully with the theme of Florence + The Machine’s tour, where they hoped their new music would inspire and invigorate listeners through a time of oppression and activism.

Watching Florence + the Machine perform is akin to watching art. Giving herself over to her music completely, Florence danced and twirled and pinned to the rhythm. At one point, she went into the crowd, and for a moment, disappeared. Not only was her music amazing, her feel was artistic and energetic. The flow of her dress and the wooden stage complimented the earthy and natural tone of her music wonderfully.

One of the highlights of the night, was when Florence herself encouraged each and everyone to turn and embrace one another. Whether it was a loved one or a stranger, everywhere, the arena instantly became filled with warmth and affection. There was so much love. Next, she asked for all cellphones to be turned off and put away. “This moment cannot be kept, but only remembered.” Miraculously, all the tiny screens and glowing lights disappeared, and the arena was filled with people who were wholly in the moment. 

That night, Florence + The Machine earned many new fans. Through her pure, yet powerful sound, Florence won over new fans and old fans all over again. Her ability to draw people, as well as create stories expressed in her music is a gift to behold. Since the lyrics are so truthful and genuine, her songs couldn’t help touching and bringing the audience together. As the band ended their set, applause filled the arena while the audience begged for an encore. Tiny, but beautiful camera flashlights filled the arena with the hope of just one more song. Returning to a wave of thundering approval, the group ended their concert with the songs “Big God” and “Shake It Out.” Overall, the entire experience was phenomenal.

Photos By: Veronica Yoo
Review By: Veronica Yoo