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

Miguel at the Cal Coast Credit Union Amphitheatre

With an incredibly smooth and sexy aesthetic, there’s no wonder Miguel sold out his show at the Cal Coast Credit Union Amphitheatre.

On Monday, September 19, Miguel came to the SDSU campus for his War and Leisure tour, alongside Dvsn. With two songs reaching the Billboard charts this year, “Skywalker” and Kygo’s ‘Remind Me to Forget”, expectations were high for Miguel’s performance. Thankfully, he was outstanding.

Miguel’s music consists of a very smooth, sultry sound with hints of raspiness and rock intermingling with a Spanish flare. He gives off a Michael Jackson vibe through his dance moves, as he effortlessly moonwalks and slides across the stage. Influences from Prince are apparent as well, with Miguel’s bold outfits, confidence, and passion all coming across in his performance. Although Miguel’s inspiration from these two artists were prevalent throughout the show, it’s very clear that Miguel has his own unique music style.

Amazingly, there was never a dull moment in the show. Despite the audience standing throughout the concert, set and costume changes remained entertaining, as the audience was treated to guitar solos from his band. Miguel had complete control over the audience as he performed and had everyone singing along with him, swaying their hands in the air. The crowd favorites were definitely “How Many Drinks?”, “Waves,” and “Pineapple Skies.” He talked about how he loves San Diego and how it feels good to be back at the beach which inspired his song, “Come Through and Chill.” Miguel additionally got up close and personal with the crowd during his medley of his past top songs.

After witnessing his stunning performance, I cannot physically restrain myself from listening to his music! It’s as though someone is forcing my brain to release endorphins anytime I hear one of his songs. Not only are the songs catchy, but their surprisingly all positive. Miguel reinforced this message as he gave several speeches regarding how society puts pressure on us to act different and be other people, which had everyone cheering in agreement. Miguel made it clear that he believes in loving ourselves and being honest as he introduced his new unreleased song “So I Lie.”

A little caveat; I had previously seen Miguel in 2016 at the Hollywood Bowl, where I witnessed him opening for Sia. This performance served to remind me of what an amazing vocalist and dancer he truly is. I’ve been to many concerts and I’d have to say Miguel is one of the best live performers. It’s difficult for an artist to sound as good as the studio versions while performing live, but Miguel pulled it off. The impressive high notes he was able to hit, while also dancing across the stage and shredding the electric guitar, shocked not only me but the entire audience as well. If you’re looking for an artist who knows how to mesmerize an audience with their smooth vocals and outstanding stage presence, then I definitely recommend that you go and see Miguel on his War and Leisure tour or any of his other performances in the future.

 

Review By: Alexandra Will
Photos By: Alexandra Will

 

Game of Thrones Live at Viejas Arena

Game of Thrones Live at the Viejas Arena was a phenomenal experience which allowed fans to relive all the highlights from the series.

If you don’t watch Game of Thrones… you are definitely missing out! After the concert, my excitement for season 8 has reached unprecedented heights. For those unfamiliar, German composer Ramin Djawadi is the mind behind all the beautiful, heartbreaking, and intense scores we hear during the show that always leaves us wanting more.

In addition to his work on Game of Thrones, Djawadi attended Berklee College of Music, worked with Hans Zimmer. and even won an Emmy for his work on the Season 7 Finale “The Dragon and the Wolf.” His contributions to Game of Thrones are embedded within the show’s DNA; Just as the characters and houses have evolved over time, so too has his themes. For example, Daenerys Targaryen’s theme started small, but became progressively more powerful after each season. Daenerys has proven herself to be a “Khaleesi” to many, so it’s only fitting her song grew with her. Her theme was initially built with only a cello, and has progressed into the powerful and strong song that it is now. During the concert, as Daenerys became stronger, she would say ‘dracarys’ and the stage would glow in flames.

Djawadi conducted an 80-piece orchestra along with a local choir. The set up included a screen that projected the show and multiple stages that separated parts of the world in the series. There was a stage dedicated to King’s Landing and one to Winterfell, with the Iron Throne directly in the middle.

Several soloists surrounded the stage, each dedicating their mastery to a specific song. Violin soloist Molly Rogers performed the House Stark theme while ascending into the air with a huge dress on, as rose petals fell from the sky! Some instruments were even specially crafted for the tour, including a 14-ft Wildling horn, which was used during a scene on the attack of the Wall. A lovely soloist brought fans to heaven (and tears) when they heard “The Rains of Castamere.” With scenes as heartwarming as Ygritte and Jon Snow’s cave scene, to the bloody and heart wrenching The Red Wedding, you are thrown headfirst into the very best moments of Game of Thrones. As “The Light of the Seven” was playing, the whole audience held their breath knowing the Wildfire was about to be lit. I intensely cried during a specific scene of Hodor’s (if you know, you know) as my fellow KCR member Peter Swan comforted me.

During the show, Djawadi even admitted that he had to write the music for season 7 before the writing for the show was even released. He also acknowledged that putting together the Game of Thrones Live Tour took over 3 years. This means they were continuously adding the music as the show was being released!

I am extremely lucky to have had this opportunity to see Ramin Djawadi in action and the unique experience of how the series was brought to life. If you ever have the opportunity to see or hear Djawadi’s work, whether from Game of Thrones, or any of his other work, I strongly recommend it.

The Frights at the Observatory North Park

The Frights Sell Out The North Park Observatory to Sweaty Teens, Bringing True All Their Frightening Dreams.

San Diego’s own The Frights played a sold-out show at The Observatory North Park on August 24th, which served as the kickoff date for their fall tour featuring HUNNY and Hot Flash Heat Wave. This hometown show served as a record release party for The Frights’ third full-length album, Hypochondriac, and, unbeknownst to all, as a birthday party for lead vocalist Mikey Carnevale. And what a party it was.

Hypochondriac is The Frights’ first record released on Epitaph Records since signing with the established punk rock label earlier this year. For the most part, the tracks feel softer and more personal than those on The Frights (2013) or You Are Going To Hate This (2016). “Goodbyes” and “Alone” are acoustic and full of raw emotion. Conversely, “Crutch” stands out as pure pop-punk, even bordering on emo territory. Gone is the “dirty doo-wop” sound The Frights were first known for, now replaced with slower, sadder songs about heartbreak.

I started my evening at M-Theory Records for a surprise acoustic set prior to the Observatory show. The Frights played through a lot of their new songs from Hypochondriac (a sound well-suited for an acoustic record store show), as well as some older favorites, such as “Of Age” from You Are Going To Hate This. The show felt intimate and wholesome, standing in stark contrast to what I’d experience later on.

At 8:00 P.M., I embarked to the Observatory for the real show. Supporting The Frights were Orange County’s The Grinns and Los Angeles’s The Marias. Typically, opening bands play for an unenthusiastic or nonexistent audience. Thankfully, tonight was not one of those times.  Towards the end of The Marias’ set, the band announced that they’d never had crowd-surfers at one of their shows and invited us to change that. The crowd obliged, establishing the rowdy energy that would continue for the rest of the night.

Around 9:30 PM, The Frights took the stage. Numerous floor lamps and suitcases had been arranged between the instruments and equipment, creating a visual reminiscent of the album cover for Hypochondriac. The floor was tightly packed as the sold-out crowd moved in for the main attraction.

It had been a while since I’d been to a show like this – Southern California, all ages, that perfect blend of surf/garage/punk rock that you can’t help but move around to. In my usual concert-going locale (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, eh?), all-ages shows are rare. Furthermore, the stereotype of Canadian politeness usually extends to concert-going and mosh pit etiquette. “Excuse me, sorry, may I bump into you a bit here, bud?” “Sorry, of course, give’r.” Perhaps that’s a slight exaggeration, but the crowds I’m typically in are either of the mid-twenties hipster or late-thirties dad-punk variety, and it’s never anything I can’t handle. Based on these experiences and the level of “punk” that I ascribe to The Frights (maybe a 4/10 – sorry, guys), I thought that at most I’d be doing some low-key jumping around and singing, with a mosh-pit or two thrown in for some of their faster songs.

I was immediately proven wrong, as three seconds into The Frights’ first song, “Kids” (from You Are Going To Hate This), and I was inadvertently screaming for the first time in years and grasping valiantly (and unsuccessfully) for whatever nearby seventeen year old’s limb I can find to avoid drowning. There was a fleeting moment where I felt myself being swallowed up by the crowd and I wondered “Is this it? Is this how it ends? Trampled to death by teenagers at the Observatory, a mere nine days after arriving in San Diego for my second study abroad semester?” A sense of calmness washed over me as I accepted my fate. Thankfully, I quickly remembered that I’m a grown adult as I found my footing, and forced myself to push around with the best of ’em.

For the rest of the night, the crowd didn’t relent in their rowdiness, which the band reciprocated by putting on a wild show. The setlist felt like an even distribution of songs from their discography, including older favorites like “Makeout Point” (from 2013’s Fur Sure EP) as well as the surf punk tunes from their self-titled debut record that The Frights are most known for. The songs just seemed to keep coming, extending the set for almost a full hour. By the end of the show, crowd and band had bonded in hoarse voices and sweat-soaked t-shirts.

After the requisite chanting of “one more song,” The Frights returned for their encore and played through the entirety of their debut EP, 2013’s Dead Beach. Additionally, two wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tubemen (staples at any Frights show) were revealed and erected, mirroring the crowd’s enthusiasm as the final crowd-surfers of the night sailed overhead. Sweaty and bruised, we all used the last of our energy for one last hurrah in the mosh pit. As the show ended, I had no other wish in the world than to do it all over again.

Written by: Andrea Renney