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

Is How to Train Your Dragon: the Hidden World Worth Your Time?

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ends the long-running trilogy with a fun, wholesome ending.

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World was directed by Dean Belois.  This is the third and seemingly final film in the How to Train Your Dragon trilogy produced by Dreamworks Animation.

If you’ve never heard of this trilogy before, these animated films tell the story of Hiccup (played by Jay Baruchel) and his friends who live with their dragons at Berk.  The first film told of the people of Berk domesticating the dragons after initially hunting them down.  It was about the relationships that these people could develop with these seemingly violent and frightening creatures.   It was a wholesome yet exciting film that would launch arguably Dreamworks’ best franchise to date.  The second film then resumed Hiccup’s journey as he searches for his mother that he believed was dead.  In terms of the whole trilogy, this one reigns supreme as the best one in the series; the film carried the most emotion without losing sight of the larger world the series was trying to build.  Additionally, action scenes in The Hidden World were by far and away some of Dreamworks’ best animation to date.

The newest How to Train Your Dragon film starts off following the events of the second film, with Hiccup’s father now dead and his mother back in his life.  After learning about yet another person who wants to take their dragons and destroy their homes, they realize the possibility of the existence of another world in which the dragons can live in peace away from the rest of society. Hiccup, having assumed the role of chief, decides that it’s a good idea to get not only the people of Berk to safety but more importantly the dragons as well.  Things get more complicated when the main dragon, Toothless, meets another female dragon and develops a relationship with it.  While the gang wonder what the best way to accomplish this goal could be, they begin to consider the possibility of releasing the dragons into the wild.

Although this latest entry in the How to Train Your Dragon series has heart and some touching scene, it’s not perfect.

I would say the scenes whenever the characters considered what life would be like without their dragons are probably the best ones of this film.  I further think this is the emotional highlight of the film when it comes to the way this story is structured.  The other aspect I really liked is of course the animation, but I also don’t really think animated movies are released today without top-notch animation.  These movies have always had really nice animation and this film is no exception.

The biggest flaw with this movie is the pacing.  Despite running for 1hr 44mins, the filmmakers still didn’t have enough time to tell the story they wanted to.  This affected certain elements of the film into feeling rushed, whereas other unnecessary elements felt overly drawn out and exhausting to watch.  The film chooses to spend much of its time showing either the characters quickly interact with the villains, the two leading dragons going on their little dates (which admittedly are very entertaining), or the other side characters being goofy and getting into silly shenanigans.   Many of these moments felt like they were only there in order for the film to force either substance or bad comedy into it.  Although it’s been awhile since I’ve seen the first two How to Train Your Dragon films, but I remember them being pretty funny.  I think that’s why it was surprising to me to see this film and acknowledge that it’s really not that funny.  The humor is mostly very juvenile and meant to cater towards children.  If the humor took a backseat to the drama the characters face this wouldn’t be a big deal, it’s just the fact that jokes are thrown in very often which makes this experience very distracting.

Even though I really liked the animation and I thought the emotions shared between the characters and their dragons were strong, this movie overall is somewhat boring.  Honestly, this is perhaps the weakest movie in this trilogy and the reason for that would be because the film does not have much substance to it.  The supposed feeling of dread that these characters have is never fully related or felt by the audience.  My guess as to why this is the case is likely because they don’t want to make the kids watching this feel uneasy.  And while that is understandable, you can still keep the audience engaged and feeling like the stakes are high while still entertaining the kids.  Good examples of this concept are the first two How to Train Your Dragon films or the Toy Story films, as these films showed managed to be entertaining for both kids and adults.

I will say that the resolution to this film and the ending to the How to Train Your Dragon trilogy is very well done.

When it is time for the climax to come that has been built up for the entire film, it feels mostly underwhelming and it comes in really quickly.  I would say the final fight of this film, although very good, is probably under 10 minutes, which is not usual for one of these movies.  What’s interesting though is that I really like the climax and I think it is my favorite part of the film, it’s just jarring to see it come so quickly is all.  What leads after the fight is really wonderful I will say though.  I won’t give away the resolution of what happens to the dragons and to Hiccup and his friends but I thought that was very satisfying.  I just wish the film had a story with higher stakes so that this ending could feel more earned.

I know I’ve been trashing on this movie a lot, but I really don’t think it’s bad.  I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think this film was disappointing, but I acknowledge that these films could be so much worse and more childish.  I think this film has the potential to bore some audience members, but I thought it was fine really.    I am happy I saw where these characters ended up and was able to watch their growth and development.  The main characters all go through incredible arcs that changes who they are and that was very interesting to see as well.  If you want to see how this trilogy ends, I’d say check it out.  I would say my enthusiasm for this film is mostly reserved just because I thought the film was underwhelming more than anything, but I still thought it was perfectly fine.  I would just say expect to possibly be disappointed and acknowledge that the film does feel rushed at times.

Written by: Christian Scognamillo

Dojo Marketplace at The Dojo Cafe

Dojo Marketplace

The coordinated effort between Creative State and Family Reunion finally came into fruition this past Saturday on February 23rd. Presented as “Dojo Marketplace” the event promised a culmination of live music, yoga, clothes, food, and more at The Dojo Cafe.

I had very recently become a part of Creative State and was excited to see all of the hardworking efforts and displays of arts these individuals were going to share at Dojo Marketplace. Arriving to the event shortly after noon, I was automatically greeted with positive spirits and artistic pop-up shops on every corner. Nearly every person that I looked at wore the combination of a smile and a unique outfit.  

 I joined a few of my friends, Bryan and Evan, who I had planned to meet, then came across a group of people wearing shirts with different shades of purple and gray as the live DJ filled the event with music. I began talking to the man at the table, Ernesto, who told me their collective of clothing was known as “aRT Brand Co.”. He explained to me that the team consistently commutes around all of Southern California including Los Angeles, San Marcos, and San Diego. My friends and I entered our names into their raffle for a free shirt, then continued on.  

Enjoying the Dojo Marketplace

As we enjoyed the abundance of happy dogs and good sunlight, I started to wonder how such a eccentric event came to be. It had to start somewhere right?  

That’s when I asked Nick Mora, one of the founders of Creative State, how it all started.  

He explained to me that he and co-founder, Khayri Carter, were sitting on a friend’s couch in Winter 2017 when they began to form the concept that is now officially Creative State. With a lack of any sort of platform for creatives and artists to share their work at San Diego State University, the idea seemed like a gold mine. Now, over a year later, it is really interesting to see just how necessary a group with this mission was. 

Little did I know, I would actually come across Khayri and his own clothing company “Garde” during my next stop at Dojo Marketplace. Bryan, Evan and I caught the design of the clothes by the corner of our eyes and were immediately intrigued. After chatting with Khayri for a while about the long journey his personal designs have come, Bryan and I happily purchased one shirt each and were featured on the official @staygarded Instagram story.  

Nick Mora's Garde shirts at Dojo Marketplace

Garde Shirts

From what I gathered, the yoga sessions were fairly easy, offered as an introduction for beginners. The yoga practice area was very aesthetically pleasing too, so I definitely took advantage of this by aiming the lens of my Sony a6000 and clicking the button on top repeatedly. 

A few art display boards were set up in the middle of the marketplace, with the correlating artists hanging out next to their pieces. We put on our best art analysis hats and began to check out the optical illusions of colors and nude paintings that hung on the display boards. My friend Bryan really seemed to like the nude paintings. Although I personally know little of any drawing, painting or art theory, it was satisfying to see these artists tangible and hard-work being showcased.  

Yoga and Fun

As I took the last of my pictures and felt my skin begin to burn from the high ultraviolet index, we decided to call it a day.  

This is neither the first or last Creative State event, in fact. Dojo Marketplace was the first event of theirs I have attended in my 18 months at San Diego State, and it has certainly got me hyped for the rest to come. 

I feel like a lot of individuals at our college have great ideas and art, but lack an outlet to share it on. Feel free to contact Creative State to meet some similarly-minded people!  

“We host these events to challenge ourselves to test our creative limits and to inspire others to do the same, and I can’t wait to show everyone what we have in store for the SDSU creative community!” stated Nick Mora happily, regarding the future of the collective.  

Creative State x Family Reunion at Dojo Marketplace

Creative State x Family Reunion

Follow the Creative State account to stay posted on the awesome events coming up for the rest of the Spring ‘19 semester. I can guarantee that you will meet a person or find a brand at the events that will make you feel creatively inspired and happy.  

Written by: Justin Neely

Rex Orange County at the Observatory North Park

Rex Orange County brought his signature timeless energy and love to the Observatory North Park.

As I approached the Observatory North Park to see Rex Orange County on November 13, my mouth dropped once I saw how long the line was to enter the venue.  It was fascinating to me to see so many people that were all here for the same artist and who have been touched by his music in some way.

Everyone in the crowd carried positive energy and were talking about what they were most excited for during the show.  I was lucky enough to see Rex during the summer at Mo Pop Music Festival in Detroit, so I felt as if I was familiar with his show and set before it had even started.  However, during his show in San Diego I felt a whole new aroma and experience.

Once the lights went off and the cheering started, an audio recording from a vintage film began to play.  Rex walked out on stage and colorful rainbow lights flashed on, also revealing a backdrop with a picture of a peach.  The opening song was nonetheless “Apricot Princess,” which is on my favorite album of his called, “Apricot Princess” as well.

During the middle of the show, Rex decided to switch moods with the audience and play “No One” by the one and only, Alicia Keys.  I could not believe how amazing this cover was, especially because he made it sound like his very own version of the song. He played his acoustic guitar throughout the show, including during this song, which gave it a unique twist.

After Rex left the stage to prepare for the encore, the crowd cheered “Rex” as loud as they could, waiting for him to make another appearance.  When he came back on stage and the encore had started, Rex told everyone to shout the words to “Loving is Easy” and jump as high as they could throughout the chorus.  

The energy during the entire show was through the roof and everyone in the audience left the venue out of breath.  The show was an hour and a half, but felt as if I was there for barely an hour. I felt connected with the people around me because we were all bonding over the same music together.

 

Check out Rex’s website for more on the artist.

Review by: Kylie Buckfire