Concert Review: Vacations at the House of Blues

Vacations and opener, Harmless, shared a blissful and lively night with the crowd at the House of Blues on Mar. 4, 2022.

Last Friday (3/4), I had the opportunity to go see Vacations at the Voodoo Room in the House of Blues. After waiting almost two years to tour, Vacations kicked off their first U.S. tour in Los Angeles and then made their way down to San Diego for their third show. This Australia-based indie-pop/rock band was a staple in my early high school years, specifically during 2018-2019, so I was excited to see them live and experience some nostalgia. 

The venue completely took me by surprise; the inside was highly decorated with detailed beaded walls and paintings from local artists, which gave off a fancy but rustic feel. Doors opened at 7:00 and even though my friend and I got there around 6, we were just a row behind the barricade. Side note: I’m from the Bay Area, and one thing that always catches me by surprise down here in San Diego is how late everyone arrives at concerts! In San Francisco, people are lining up at 4:00 for an 8:00 show. 

Harmless photographed by: Sofia Dell’Aquila

Opening for Vacations was indie-pop artist Harmless who was not only talented but super entertaining. He was cracking jokes, referencing popular memes, and even whipped out some choreographed dances with his guitarist in the middle of songs. Because of his interaction with the crowd throughout the entire show, you felt like you knew him personally by the end of the set! I had never previously heard of his band, but I knew the last song that he played, “Swing Lynn,” which went viral on the internet a couple of months ago. 

Vacations photographed by: Sofia Dell’Aquila

Vacations came on promptly at 9:00 and opened with their song “Moving Out” from their sophomore album Changes. Their romantic and melancholy lyrics mixed with whimsical instrumentals had the whole room dancing and swaying. The room swirled with soft pinks and blues, perfectly corresponding to the playful and lighthearted aura that their music gives off. Later, they played some songs from their 2016 album Vibes and their 2020 album Forever in Bloom, such as “Home” and “Lavender”. Though there were a lot of technical difficulties, the band made the most out of their spare time by talking with fans in the crowd and expressing their excitement to be touring again, and in a new country nonetheless. They even passed some time by playing the “Cowboy Bebop” theme song and the “Neon Genesis Evangelion” closing song, which totally caught my friend and me off-guard because we love those shows. After getting a new guitar, they continued and played my favorite song “Telephones” with dimmed lights, further amplifying the intimacy that the song already projected. 

Vacations photographed by: Sofia Dell’Aquila

Reading the excitement of the room, the band decided to skip the encore pause and just go straight into their last songs. They ended the night with their hit song “Relax” and then took a big audience photo for the art project that they were working on while on tour. Overall, the energy throughout the entire night was amazing, and seeing Vacations live was a great way to revisit some positive memories from my younger teen years.

Written by: Sofia Dell’Aquila

Concert Review: Ritt Momney’s Sunny Boy Tour at the HOB Voodoo Room (3/11)

Last Saturday (3/11), I was lucky enough to catch Ritt Momney’s Sunny Boy Tour, supported by artists Hannah Jadagu and Shane T, live at the House of Blues Voodoo Room. The walls of the venue are adorned with unique folk-style art, the Voodoo Room (located in downtown San Diego) is one of my favorite spots. And with a capacity of only about 150 people, the coziness of the venue made for an intimate, yet still electrifying set. 

The show opened with alternative/indie artist Shane T’s set — hailing from Nashville, Tennessee, Toriscelli has a bit of a blues influence in his sound. With his profound vocals, Toriscelli caught my attention right away. For the rest of his set, my attention was fixated — his song “Simple Man” was definitely a favorite of mine, with its candid lyrics and dreamy guitar. It’s also important to mention that T belted his heart out during each song, which made his performance feel that much more impactful. Toriscelli was truly a crowd favorite, as for the rest of the show some fans continued to shout his name as he supported Mitt Romney on guitar. 

Next up was the angelic Hannah Jadagu, originally from Mesquite, Texas. Upon walking on stage, she immediately lit up the room with her warm presence. But her somewhat reserved demeanor on stage fell away at the first strum of her guitar. Jadagu’s wide-ranging set of bedroom pop originals and lively mashup cover of Grouplove’s “Tongue Tied” and M.I.A.’s “Paper Planes” had the crowd in a wave of emotions, singing and dancing, completely captivated by the band’s performance — which, I have to say, Jadagu and her bandmates seemed to blend beautifully together, crafting zestful, alluring energy which seemed to radiate into the crowd. 

Ritt Momney photographed at the House of Blues Voodoo Room on March 11, 2022.
Photo Credit: Olivia Flores

And at last, headliner Ritt Momney — fronted by SLC’s own cat-beanie-adorned Jack Runner — entered the stage. Switching from instrument to instrument, Runner’s dynamic set had me engaged and wanting more. Performing an array of originals from the newly-released album “Sunny Boy” and some older songs from “Her and All My Friends” (2019), Ritt Momney had a diverse crowd (which included everyone from young teenagers, to millennials, to even some middle-aged adults) singing, dancing, and even crying along to the music. Because of his down-to-earth presence, Runner truly shocked me with how much energy and gusto he put into performing each song. Not even a minor nosebleed incident on stage could stop Runner — with rolled up bits of bloodied tissues in his nostrils, Runner pushed on and gave a performance impossible to forget. 

Singing at the top of his lungs in the rawest and most honest fashion, moving around the stage, and interacting with the audience, Runner’s passion shined through — nothing about that set was half-assed. I’ve been to shows before that feel dry and disconnected, sensing that the band cares little about the quality of their performance, and it feels terrible. But with Ritt Momney, that wasn’t true — I can honestly say that Jack Runner left his heart on that stage. 

After the show, I had the chance to meet Runner and give my thanks for a great show — he was incredibly kind and humble, greeting everyone who came up to him with a smile and never saying no to a picture or an autograph. So, make sure to catch Ritt Momney (as well as Jadagu and Toriscelli) the next time they’re in your area — or you just might miss some magic.

Written by: Olivia Flores

SDSU Baseball Honors “Mr. Padre”

Eight months ago, I wrote a blog about the late Tony Gwynn and what he meant to San Diego. 

Whatever people called him – Mr. Padre, Aztec For Life, Hall of Famer, Coach, or Dad – Gwynn cared about what he did and who he interacted with.   

The San Diego State baseball program honored their late head coach with a baseball tournament in his name back in 2015 and this past weekend, they hosted their fifth annual Tony Gwynn Legacy.

Head coach Mark Martinez said the tournament gives programs across the United States the opportunity to come to “America’s Finest City” and learn about Coach Gwynn.

“We celebrate Tony’s legacy and this is a focal point for this weekend, for great programs throughout the country to play in San Diego,” Martinez said in a press conference Friday. “Our baseball program celebrates Tony’s legacy every single day. It’s a turbo charge to what we do every day with Tony.”

On Sunday, the Aztecs started strong with senior outfielder Mike Jarvis hitting his second home run to left field to start SDSU’s offense in the first inning. It was the San Diego native’s second leadoff home run this season.

After a couple of two-RBI singles in the third and fourth inning, the Aztecs would go on to lose, 11-5 against the Trojans on the final day of the Tony Gwynn Legacy Tournament.

The Trojans responded in the top of the fifth when USC junior outfielder Ben Ramirez, who played with juniors Casey Schmitt and Brian Leonhardt at Eastlake High School in San Diego, hit a bases-clearing triple to the left field corner to cap off a five-run inning. 

Overall, the Aztecs had four errors defensively and 10 of the 11 runs were unearned for Aztec pitching. 

Head coach Mark Martinez said the team did not make the right choices but realizes they can regroup.

“We made some bad decisions defensively,” Martinez said. “The biggest thing for me is we have to manage success and manage adversity and hard times.”

Despite defensive miscues, sophomore pitcher Aaron Eden started and went 4 and two-thirds innings. He cruised through the first four innings, allowing just a hit and a walk.

“(I was) getting ahead, using my fastball to my advantage,” Eden said. “That’s my best pitch so that helped me.”

Although SDSU lost this game, they won twice in this weekend’s Tony Gwynn Legacy.

It is the third consecutive year SDSU has won at least two games during the Tony Gwynn Legacy Tournament.

SDSU defeated Iowa 4-1 on Friday and beat Nebraska on Saturday 4-2.

Leonhardt, who also pitched an inning against USC, said it was a good weekend, but a better week with SDSU’s midweek victory over Cal State Fullerton.

“We won the weekend,” Leonhardt said. “If someone told us going into the weekend, ‘you’re going to win two of three,’ we are going to look back on we won two out of three and three out of four.”  

Leonhardt said exposing Gwynn’s legacy to teams across the country is positive and ensures that SDSU will continue to promote who Tony Gwynn was – a hard worker – even after he passed away.

“I believe if he was here, he’d be proud of us,” Leonhardt said. “Although we had a tough loss, we battled hard to get two gritty wins Friday and Saturday. It’s great to come out and play for him every day.”

The Aztecs hit the road Tuesday to UC Irvine before coming home to play the 2018 National Champions, Oregon State Beavers.

Written by: Breven Honda

Stone Temple Pilots and Rival Sons at Cal Coast Credit Union Open Air Theatre

Rock n’ roll was alive and thriving on Wednesday, October 9 when rock icons Stone Temple Pilots brought the house down with help from Rival Sons at SDSU’s open-air theatre.

I walked into the Cal Coast Theater to the sound of the opener, the Warbly Jets whose best song was “Alive.” True to its name it really woke the crowd up and brought a whirlwind of energy to the arena. Followed by the Warbly Jets was the Rival Sons.

During the lead up to their opening song, they had a dog skeleton with a beating heart going to the beat of the first song “Back in the Woods.” The crowd was thrown into a frenzy and was headbanging for the rest of the Rival Sons’ set. I couldn’t take my eyes off the guitarist Scott Holiday during their set either. He had the look of a younger Johnny Depp that instead of acting, took up music at a young age. The singer, Jay Buchanan, had an electric stage presence and felt like he was straight out of the 80s. As the set went on, they played their hits such as “Pressure and Time” and “Electric Man.” To finish off their set they closed it with a bang starting with “Do Your Worst” followed by “Keep on Swinging.” These closing songs captured the force of the crowd and channeled it all into Rival Sons’ rock and roll attitude. Their army of fans were headbanging and throwing out rock and roll salutes.

After the Rival Sons’ magnetic energy, 90s rock icons the Stone Temple Pilots followed suit with an equally powerful performance. They opened their set with “Silvergun Superman” and “Wicked Garden.” My Dad, a rock and roll connoisseur, came with me to the event remarked how even with a different singer than the original, the energy STP brought still felt the same as it did back in the 90s.

Towards the middle of the set they brought out Rival Sons drummer Michael Miley to play for them during “Plush” and they brought out Jay Buchanan to co-vocal STP’s hit song “Interstate Love Song.” This performance was a special tribute because San Diego was the last show of the tour and they wanted to end it with something to remember. STP ended their set with “Trippin’ on a Hole in a Paper Heart.” After the lights went down the crowd was begging for more and we got it. STP came back out and performed “Piece of Pie” and “Sex Type Thing.” Overall, I was surprised by how good the Warbly Jets were considering I hadn’t heard of them before the concert and was thrilled with how much rock and roll energy that Rival Sons and STP were able to bring to San Diego.

Written by: Jacob Stephens