Julia Michaels at House of Blues San Diego

If you want to have a great time at a concert dancing and singing the night away – Go to a Julia Michaels Concert!

You truly won’t regret it. Both Julia Michaels’ energy and her audience’s energy filled the room. I can honestly say that her concert was one of the most fun ones I’ve been to simply because she had the loudest crowd.

Julia Michaels performing at House of Blues San Diego

Julia Michaels sold out her 9th headlining show for her Inner Monologue Tour at House of Blues San Diego on April 20, 2019. She is a very busy artist as she is also currently touring with P!nk on her Beautiful Trauma Tour at the same time as her Inner Monologue Tour.

Many of you may know Julia Michaels. However, if you’ve never heard of her, then you’ve most likely heard her hit single, “Issues.” Before that, Michaels was writing hit singles for other artists such as Justin Bieber’s “Sorry,” Selena Gomez’s “Bad Liar,” Nick Jonas’s “Close,” and many more.

What is interesting about Michaels is she’s an intricate person – I’d describe her as a beautiful badass with her signature feminine floral dresses and her tattoo sleeves and nose ring. She has a very distinctive and different sound than most artists and her voice is easily recognizable.  Michaels is also a very open musician, which was the concept behind her “Inner Monologue” – those thoughts that she has that people don’t see from the outside. The stage represented what you see on the outside – everything is happy with smiley faces and flowers, but you listen to the lyrics and realize everything isn’t all sunshine and rainbows.

Michaels attempted to make her tour relatable by letting her fans know that it’s okay to go through depression or anxiety.

Julia Michaels made it clear that it was a judgement free zone and safe space for everyone to let go and sing and dance. Her music has a feel good vibe to it, and it was so much fun letting loose and relieving stress by screaming along to her songs. Additionally, her songs hold a lot of emotion and truth, so it naturally felt as though this was a place to just let everything out.

Julia Michaels has such a strong connection with her audience, she wanted to get as close to them as possible.

At one point, Michaels’ security carried her into the audience as she finished “Happy,” followed by a cover of Cee Lo Green’s “Forget You,” and then a ukulele rendition of her own song “Apple.” She also sat on the edge of the stage pointing out her audience’s posters and making eye contact with fans. I even heard from some fans that the meet and greet took two hours because she’s so genuine and her conversations with each individual were long and personal.

I love how you could tell the audience truly admires Julia as they all had matching floral dresses and sneakers similar to Julia’s. But despite their elegant appearance, they were definitely one of the loudest audiences I’ve ever heard in a venue. Sometimes, you couldn’t even hear Julia because the audience had so much passion and energy! It’s amazing when songs from concerts become your new favorites because of how amazing and fun they sound live – and for me those songs were“Into You” and “Happy.”


I loved getting the opportunity to see Julia Michaels. Her message she imparted that you shouldn’t be afraid to be yourself and let your feelings out deeply resonated with me. If you want to have one of these fantastic nights with an amazing artist, make sure to go see Julia Michaels on her Inner Monologue Tour.

Review By: Alexandra Will
Photos By: Alexandra Will

SwuM & TVBOO at Music Box

The SwuM/TVBOO show at Music Box was a bass thumping, energy-inducing high of good-vibing music.

Held at the Music Box in downtown San Diego, the show catered to people of all ages, but targeted the young in the community (18+, although I did see a couple 12 year olds running around). Although the advertising mainly promoted SwuM & TVBOO, there were several opening acts consisting of talented/young DJ’s & musicians who are breaking into the industry. I am proud and honored to say that not one, but two of my coworkers performed that night and amazed myself and the audience with their immense skill.

Doors opened around 7pm and people flooded in ready to experience a great environment.

The venue itself had a bar for those who were of age, and a merchandise shop to pull in some extra revenue. While there was little to no sitting room (not including VIP), it was not really needed as the crowd preferred a more open area to jump along to the bumping music.

Kastro opened the evening as the venue opened to the public, and introduced us to the wonderful evening and mood that would be set for the evening. My coworker, Domoniqxe, went on next and showcased some amazing original compositions that the crowd really enjoyed. She then handed the floor to Lydon (another coworker of mine) & Zuma who really got the crowd moving with some bass-heavy mixes. Both of them served as DJ’s as well as MC’s and worked well with one another. From there, there were a few more wonderful openers before the main acts came on stage. SwuM is notorious for the lo-fi genre and catered to audience seamlessly.

TVBOO is a more hype edm/dubstep type artist and was saved for later in the night. Some people only went for the latter of the two as TVBOO creates a different atmosphere than SwuM. Having the two perform in the same night was a good move though because electronic artists have such a wide variety of fans that can vibe together.

All in all, it was a wonderful show made possible by talented artists, dedicated people, and a great venue. I hope to see everyone artist again in the future, maybe even on a bigger stage.

A major shoutout is also in order for Lydon & Domoniqxe as they publicized the event to a large majority of San Diego State University students.

Written by: Eduardo Orozco
Pictures by: Eduardo Orozco

Top Music Picks of 2018 (That I Actually Listened To)

2018 was a year of new music from established favorites, debut full-lengths from up-and-coming artists, and singles in advance of forthcoming releases

As 2018 comes to a close, so too does my time at KCR, at San Diego State, and in San Diego in general. Between bouts of crying and while avoiding thinking about returning to Canada (the land of arctic boredom and a much more affordable healthcare system), I’ve spent some time reflecting on the new music released in 2018 that has soundtracked my California existence.

Southern California is a melting pot for the surf, garage, and punk genres, music that’s perfect for cruising down the freeway in the sunshine to (check out the undercard for this year’s Tropicalia Festival lineup and you’ll get a sense of what I’m talking about). As such, the majority of the new music I’ve been listening to and seeing live this year has come from bands based in California. However, the Golden State is almost always a stop for touring bands, so I’ve also had the chance to hear new stuff from those that hail from outside our perfect West Coast bubble.

So as a final parting gift to the loyal readers of my KCR blog posts (read: people on my Facebook friends list), I present to you: California Andrayah’s* favorite music released in 2018. As a fun bonus, I’ve included the most fitting freeways and neighborhoods to serve as a backdrop for your listening, based on my personal experiences. Let’s be real: you need a car to get around in San Diego, and since you can’t pick up AM 1610 all over the county, you’re going to need to play your own music if you can’t listen to San Diego’s Best AM/FM Radio Station according to The San Diego Union-Tribune 2018 Reader’s Poll. I’m talking about KCR here. It’s us. We’re the best.

*as an (un)interesting aside, every person I’ve met in California has pronounced my name like An-DRAY-ah. Technically, I am actually AN-dree-ah. I might stick with my new moniker, though, in an effort to try to convince myself I’m still in San Diego, going to Better Buzz four times a week and drinking alone at the Ugly Dog Bar when they’ve got a sour on special for $3 Tuesdays.

Records:

hoodratscumbags – Beach Goons

hoodratscumbags

Logan Heights’ Beach Goons released hoodratscumbags this August, and my introduction to the band was through this record on the day it came out. If you were lucky enough to catch them at The Live Wire, KCR’s new flagship concert series, back in September, you know that Beach Goons offers SoCal surf/garage rock with a Cumbia twist. hoodratscumbags marks the first release for Beach Goons in a couple years and the new record was highly anticipated by their fans. Founding member Pablo Cervantez sought to recognize Beach Goons’ Chicano/Mexican heritage with their new music, and songs like “Chunti” and “A.M.” really emphasize this influence.

Top picks: Vatos Tristes, Hrsb

Best use: Is it lame to listen to Beach Goons while driving down Logan Avenue? Maybe, but I’ve done it. Otherwise, hoodratscumbags is a good choice for driving around Ocean Beach. Consider playing it as you roll up to the Robb Field Skate Park so the skaters know you’re down with the local music scene. I recently bought my first skateboard, and this is a fact that I like to make known as much as possible.

My Own Mess – Skegss

My Own Mess

Australian garage/surf trio Skegss released their debut full-length back in September before embarking on a tour of their homeland with Chicago’s Twin Peaks. Maybe it’s Australia’s similar climate and its cultural emphasis on surfing, but My Own Mess fits right in with our SoCal music scene. It’s chock-full of slacker anthems about partying, watching TV, and fucking up. My favorite track on the record, “Margarita”, is one of those rare songs that I heard and instantly fell in love with, immediately qualifying it for Banger Status. If you’re a fan of bands like The Frights, SWMRS, or FIDLAR, you’ll probably be stoked on Skegss.

Top picks: Margarita, My Mind

Best use: Skegss is the band you want to start your day with. Not if your day consists of school or work, but when your day will be spent doing something fun, like laying on the beach or skateboarding. I have a skateboard now, so I can relate to this. My Own Mess is reserved for the 8 West (never the 8 East – this ain’t for driving home at the end of your fun day) on your way to the beach, or maybe the 5/805 North, if you’re bougie and heading to a beach in La Jolla.

I Don’t Run – Hinds

I Don't Run

This April, Hinds released I Don’t Run as a follow up to their debut record, 2016’s Leave Me Alone. Their sophomore effort is similar to Leave Me Alone musically, but it’s not a carbon copy. The all-girl garage rock group from Madrid, Spain digs a little deeper on I Don’t Run, and lyrically the songs get personal and serious at times. That’s not to say the music is slow and sad – the record still largely consists of the irresistibly fun and catchy songs Hinds is well known for.

Top picks: Tester, Rookie

Best use: Take a girls-only day trip to Los Angeles and put on I Don’t Run as you roll down Melrose Avenue scoping out your next Instagram photo op. Otherwise, a fun and semi-manipulative idea is to play “Tester” when driving with a guy who you suspect could be cheating on you, particularly for the lyric “Should I have known before you were also banging her?” I’m not actually speaking from experience here (give me a little credit), but I could see myself doing this. Or at least considering it.

Onion – Shannon and the Clams

Onion

I think Shannon and the Clams is one of the most underrated bands of our time. They blend doo-wop, surf, and garage rock into a unique sound that’s perfectly nostalgic, a sound that’s not often heard these days. I’m usually more of a music person than a lyrics person, but the lyrics on Onion‘s tracks stand out with their raw emotion and poignant themes. Set to the Clams’ signature retro instrumentals, the result is foot-tapping, danceable songs that are painfully beautiful underneath.

If I had to pick one record from this list to recommend to someone who hadn’t heard any of them, in the hopes that they would discover a new band to obsess over, it would be Onion. Send tweet.

Top picks: If You Could Know, The Boy

Best use: I like to listen to Shannon and the Clams during the rare times when I’m in 5:30 PM traffic, because I can be safely reckless and dance along to it while driving. A favorite spot is getting off the 163 and onto the 8, near Fashion Valley. It takes fifteen minutes to move half a mile – you can dance through the first five songs on the record while you wait.

The Dream and the Deception – The Aquadolls

The Dream and the Deception

Like Shannon and the Clams, I think The Aquadolls don’t get nearly the amount of recognition they deserve. The tracklist for The Dream and the Deception features nineteen songs that span the emotional spectrum, from sad to silly to pissed off. Singer, guitarist, and songwriter Melissa Brooks’ commitment to The Aquadolls is admirable – she self-released this record online in October and has plans to press it in on vinyl via her own label in the new year.

Top picks: Cigboi, Communicationissexy/Idkhow2communicate

Best use: My top picks above are fitting for driving home on the 94 East on a moody, rainy Friday night. You’ve left-swiped through everyone on Tinder and you’re feeling hopeless and lonely. “Why am I so alone?” you cry, as you ignore everyone and make no effort to meet people. Switch over to something more upbeat and positive, like “I’m a Star”, to remind yourself that you are, in fact, a star.

3 – Sextile

3

Good god, do I love Sextile. I love getting into music that’s a lot different than the usual things I listen to (see every other record on this list), and Sextile stands in stark contrast to the reverb-heavy surf rock that’s so popular in Southern California.  The Los Angeles based duo is not like anything I’ve ever heard – all the headbang-inducing and moshpit-inciting energy of punk with the added twist of a new wave dance beat. If you’ve ever wanted to go to a club and dance all night amid cool visuals, but you’re a bit too punk rock for something like that, check out Sextile.

Top picks: Spun, Paradox

Best use: Don’t listen to this in your car. See them live! Dance around in the strobe lights! Inhale the smoke machine smoke! Get slammed into and have your front row spot taken by a psycho ex! It’s all part of the experience.

Hypochondriac – The Frights

Hypochondriac

The Frights put out their third record, Hypochondriac, on Epitaph Records after signing with the punk label earlier this year. It’s quite a departure from 2016’s You Are Going To Hate This, and an even farther trip from 2013’s The Frights. Many of the songs are a lot softer and sadder, with the exception of the pop-punk/emo track “CRUTCH”. The new sound is good in its own right, but if you’re looking for the same surf-inspired tunes that put The Frights on the map, you’re going to need to look elsewhere.

Top picks: Alone, Whatever

Best use: The Frights will always remind me of driving on the 8 East and taking the College Avenue exit to get back to State (shoutout to “Cold” from The Frights for being my spring 2018 anthem). Otherwise, the driving vibe can vary: sometimes I’m shouting along angrily to “Over It” as I drive to the Taco Bell at University/College, sometimes I’m crying to “Goodbyes” on the 5. It’s a spectrum.

Singles:

“Drip” – The Marías and Triathalon

Drip

A definite outlier on this list, but if Statistics 101 taught me anything, it’s that…outliers exist? They validate your data? I don’t know. Anyway, this is a cool song. The Marías call themselves a “psychedelic soul” band, and Triathalon makes lo-fi R&B. The union of the two results in a multi-layered song that coalesces flawlessly – The Marías come in first with their signature funky-yet-smooth sound, Triathalon enters with a slowed-down, dreamy verse, and they link up in the outro. It is, in a word, a vibe.

Best use: This one’s a bit tricky. It’s definitely a nighttime song, but it’s not a party song. Play this at the end of the night, when you’re winding down and driving home after drinks at Sycamore Den in Normal Heights. The freeway is nearly empty and you can really feel the groove.

“Are You High?” – FIDLAR

Are You High?

Where can I download this damn song, FIDLAR? One of four tracks released by the band in 2018 (together with “Alcohol”, “Too Real”, and “Can’t You See”, from their upcoming third record Almost Free), it seems “Are You High?” was only released along with a music video on YouTube. It’s a shame, as this song is catchy as hell. It’s FIDLAR through and through, with strong guitars and lyrics referencing struggles with addiction. Guess you’ll just have to catch it at one of their live shows.

Best use: I’ve only ever listened to this on my Macbook while sitting in bed. So that, I guess.

“Glo Ride” – Hot Flash Heat Wave

Glo Ride

When I asked Nathan Blum and Ted Davis of Hot Flash Heat Wave (flex) if “Glo Ride” was indicative of what was to come for the band, Davis confirmed that their next record would be full of “headier, but still pop-oriented songs” like it. That appears to be the case, as they’ve since released two more songs that are in the same vein as this one. HFHW definitely seems to be heading in a more psychedelic direction, and “Glo Ride” is leading the way.

Actually, now that I’m listening to it again, this song is more similar to “Drip” than it is to the other music featured in this list. I’m not sure how this data affects the validity of my claims here. Oh well. Who really needs statistics? Just kidding. Stay in school, Aztecs.

Best use: I don’t really want to say this is a good makeout song, but… this is a good makeout song. Find a spot to park, and I’ll leave it at that.

Check out this Spotify playlist for all of the songs mentioned here.

Written by: Andrea Renney

Tame Impala at Treasure Island Music Festival

Seeing Tame Impala live at Treasure Island Music Festival was an opportunity I’d never dreamed of experiencing. 

Led by record-producer and multi-instrumentalist Kevin Parker, Tame Impala is one of the world’s greatest mysteries. After being blown away by them, I wrote about the whole experience for those looking to experience it themselves.

The show:

Opening with the short interlude “Nangs” gave the perfect vibe of what the show would be like. The crowd was enticed by the fog pouring in from both sides of the stage, while the slowly changing lights immersed us all into the trip we were about to undertake. Slowly but surely, Kevin Parker’s voice began to sing “but is there something more than that?” Who knew 7 words could elicit such a feeling of love and excitement from a group of fans.

Tame Impala followed this moment with their hit single, “Let It Happen.” At this point, lasers began to shine, which seemed almost close enough to touch. The lasers bounced to the bass, following the sound at each turn as if they were magically being shot out of the band’s instruments. I felt as if it was the first time I was hearing the song even though I knew all of the words. As the song transitioned, Kevin did something we didn’t expect; He had the audience clap along, something you usually wouldn’t see at a psychedelic rock concert. He transformed us into instruments, adding percussion with our hands.

“Are you ready?” Kevin asked. And suddenly, confetti was covering the sky. The visuals at this concert were nothing short of breathtaking, seductive even.

Tame Impala’s lasers

Tame Impala proceeded to throw it back with “Sundown Syndrome,” their first official 2009 single. Being a sultry song, the band shifted the music into having a jazzier flow, while Kevin’s soft spoken vocals taught us how to sway.

The Moment” started and at this point we were all in our own little worlds. It’s such a fun and easy going song, it’s hard not to dance along. The band followed this with a snippet of  “Sestri Levante” to get us into the mood for something amazing: “Elephant.” This ultimate classic had us all on another level. If you’ve ever seen the Disney movie Dumbo, the song is literally like that one scene with the elephants where you think you’re on drugs. It’s crazy and hypnotic, and Kevin was throwing us through the ringer.

Why Won’t You Make Up Your Mind?” was a very hardcore song compared to the others. It was almost like we were in the studio with Kevin as he wrote out the words, unsure and scared of what the feelings he was having meant. Next, “Eventually” came on with its’ distorted and romantic chords. The visuals for this song were also out of this world. The layers of lasers were immersed into a moving cloudy sky of light, flowing with the sound of the guitar. This song is heavily drum based compared to the other songs, so it was amazing to see how they added everything together in person.

Afterwards, “Yes I’m Changing” threw everyone into a reflective mood, as the song holds feelings of love and heartache. This song is about growing and becoming a better person, but not forgetting about who you are and not letting your past hold you down. “There is another future waiting there for you” he sang, telling us all that there is so much we can do to change. This song is the perfect mix of nostalgia and yearning. If you’re going through anything right now, this is the song to listen to. It’s hopeful, and it really makes you think.

The almost romantic but somehow savage song that is “The Less I Know The Better” started playing and we were all in a daze. If you haven’t heard this song before, I would stop what you’re doing right now and look it up. That’s it, I can’t ruin it, you’ll have to listen to it for yourself.

Amongst the excitement and shock of hearing that song live, the audience was blown away by something none of us expected. Tame Impala’s first performance of “Jeremy’s Storm” since November 2012. We were truly lucky to be there and be witnessing something like this. Kevin even said himself that they didn’t even soundcheck it and they were just going to go for it. This song had the most simple visuals which really showed off the bands’ roots. 

Love/Paranoia” was like a lullaby to us all, waking us up to the dreams that the song emitted. For a song about cheating, it’s one of their most beautiful songs. It feels almost as if you’re trapped in a loop, trying to push out and escape. And somehow, Tame Impala makes it feel like you want to be there.

Alter Ego” felt like we were all going through some sort of time machine into the past. And it was almost as if we were all traveling together, on a journey to trying to go back to the beginning of the show, knowing the end of it was near. “Apocalypse Dreams” rang out like a cry as we all danced, not wanting it to ever end. One of their longer songs, it was perfect to end on.

Beginning the encore, “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” played with a feeling of hope. Right as the song started, confetti filled the air and we were all moving in the air with it. I was realizing in this point that it really was the end of the show, and this was Tame Impala in their purest form. I didn’t want it to end.

Their last song was introduced with Kevin saying some parting words. “We will see you real soon, I promise,” he said, as “New Person, Same Old Mistakes” began. Everyone was holding onto his words of ‘seeing us real soon’, because he was still in front of us! During the interlude, Kevin spoke: “Alright guys. This is it! This is the last one. We will see you really soon. We love you! Thank you.” Confetti filled the sky one last time. It was the hardest goodbye.

WHAT NOW?

If you ever have the chance to see Tame Impala live, DO IT. Tame Impala has perfected this art of psychedelic, sexy, but somehow distorted way of catching your eye and making you never want to turn back. It was one of the most magical shows I have ever experienced, and for that I am so grateful, and excited, for what is to come with Tame Impala’s future. According to Kevin, we’ll be seeing them “real soon”, and I’ll be sure to hold him to that.

Photos by: Brittany Roache
Written by: Molly Atkins