Lennon Stella, 5 Seconds of Summer, and the Chainsmokers at Viejas Arena

Lennon Stella, 5 Seconds of Summer and the Chainsmokers put on a stellar performance at Viejas Arena on November 24th, 2019.

Lennon Stella

The opener for the show was Lennon Stella. I had absolutely no idea who she was before the show, so I decided to Google her. I learned that she and her sister Maisy were Maddie and Daphne Conrad in the show Nashville, and that is how they got their start. Lennon recently signed to RECORDS and Columbia Records. She then released her first solo EP last year, called Love Me, and also has done collaborations with  Jonas Blue, Liam Payne, and the Chainsmokers.

Lennon Stella had the crowd in awe when she came out. There was a single spotlight on her as she sang her first song. She performed a total of eight songs, including “Breakaway,” “Feelings,” “Bad,” “Kissing Other People,” “Like Everybody Else,” “Fortress,” “BITCH (takes one to know one)” and “La Di Da.” She moved from one side of the stage to the other, constantly engaging with the fans in the crowd. Her voice is breathtaking, and hearing her perform live was incredibly amazing. My favorite song of hers that she performed was “Kissing Other People.” If you have never listened to her music, please take this as a sign to do so!

5 Seconds of Summer

If you would have told me when I was 13 that at the age of 20, I would be photographing 5 Seconds of Summer, I, most likely, would have laughed in your face. But here I am, 20 years old, and doing something I never thought I would do. I was a die-hard fan of 5SOS in high school, and after seeing and shooting this show, it revived my love for them.

I sadly was not one of the lucky people who got to see 5SOS and One Direction perform on the same tour, and let me tell you why. At that point in my life, I was emo. I thought that I was too cool to go see One Direction perform. I missed out on the best tour of my life, and yes, I regret it every single day of my life. 

They performed a total of 15 songs, including “She Looks So Perfect,” “Easier,” “More,” “Valentine,” “If Walls Could Talk,” “Talk Fast,” “Moving Along,” “Ghost of You,” “Amnesia,” “Waste the Night,” “Why Won’t You Love Me,” “Jet Black Heart,” “Teeth,” “Want You Back,” and “Youngblood.”

Getting to hear “She Looks So Perfect” while being a mere few feet away from the band was just absolutely amazing. I am always the photographer in the photo pit that is singing along to every single word from behind my camera.

Once I left the photo pit, I got to watch the rest of their set from the crowd. Every single person in Viejas Arena was standing, dancing, and singing along. There were two moments of the show that were my favorite. The first being when Calum introduced every single member of the band. He went around introducing Ashton, then Luke, and then said, “and last but not least, I’m Calum.” He totally skipped over Michael, and it had the crowd laughing. Later in the show, Ashton decided to tell the crowd about, in what order, his favorite members of the band were for the night. This is apparently a thing that he has done at all the shows on this tour. He listed them in the following order: Calum, Luke, and then Michael. Again, Michael was put last, which made everyone in the crowd laugh. Ashton gave his spiel on why Michael was last, and it was because he felt like he had been giving Michael too much attention lately. Again, that made the crowd laugh.

This was my first time getting to see 5SOS, after being a fan since 2013. I had super high expectations for their show because I always hear amazing things about them. This show surpassed my expectations. Their music, somehow, sounds even more beautiful and raw live. The vocals, the instruments, the stage presence, everything. It was an amazing show, and if you were not there, you missed out.

The Chainsmokers

The headliner for the night was the Chainsmokers. Shooting this show was very different than what I am used to. It was a challenge, but it was a really fun challenge. For the Chainsmokers, all the photographers shot this portion of the show from the soundboard. To be quite honest, I have not used my long lens since I first purchased my camera almost seven years ago. This kind of set up really pushed me out of my comfort zone when it came to shooting the show, but I am very happy with the outcome.

The Chainsmokers sang a total of 30 songs, including “Takeaway” (which was performed with Lennon Stella), “Roses,” “Under the Bridge” (a Red Hot Chili Peppers cover), “Paris,” “Push My Luck,” “Cream,” “Call You Mine,” “Don’t Let Me Down,” “Shout” (a The Isley Brothers cover), “Mo Bamba” (a Sheck Wes cover), “Siren Get Ready for This” (a 2 Unlimited cover), “Everybody Hates Me.”

There was a break for an insane drum solo, then the songs continued with “Sick Boy,” “P.S. I Hope You’re Happy,” “Hope,” “Beach House,” “Split Say My Name” (a SAY MY NAME. cover), “Something Just Like This,” “The Grimm” (a John Christian cover), “Hard” (a Swen Weber & Jewelz cover), “Somebody,” “This Feeling,” “Kernkraft 400” (a Zombie Nation cover), “Olè” (a dabow cover), “Save Yourself,” “Who Do You Love” (which was performed with 5 Seconds of Summer), and “Closer.”

The stage set up for this show was so cool. There was the main stage, then a walkway connected that went all the way to the back of the stadium. It really allowed the band to connect with fans in every single part of the arena. The crowd was going absolutely wild for the Chainsmokers, dancing and moving along to every single song. This really was a concert you did not want to miss. 

Written by: McCaeley O’Rourke
Photos by: McCaeley O’Rourke

Looking at the Styles of Harry

Harry Styles was a teenager thrown into stardom and afraid of the world’s judgment. Now, Harry Styles is a confident 25-years-old ready to express himself in spite of judgment. He has grown, and I have grown with him.

I have been a fan of Harry Styles since elementary school. When I was younger I kept a picture of him in my binder and today I have a painted picture of his album cover hanging over my bed, so clearly I have not grown out of my adoration for him. Since I have been a fan for quite a while, I remember seeing pictures of him walking around in Jack Wills hoodies and baggy pants thinking he is the coolest guy in the world to working with Gucci and still believing that he’s the coolest guy in the world. A large part of why I admire him is because I got to witness his transition from dressing like a typical teenage boy to someones who’s unafraid to experiment with his looks while still knowing himself.

His Famous Suits

When people think about Harry Styles’ style, their minds often go to his suits. His suits can vary from looking posh and classic to striking, fun, and unique. Although I don’t want to give Harry Styles much credit for changing the way we see clothing and gender, I respect that he explores femininity and mixes it with his sense of masculinity. If I didn’t have to drop out of college to be able to afford them, I would love to wear many of his suits (we all know suits look better on women).

A Casual Style Icon

Even if Harry isn’t performing or attending an award show in one of his famous suits, he still manages to be a style icon on his casual days. He often wears bright floral shirts that make him stand out since people definitely would not recognize him walking around town. Not only do I love the colors and designs of his floral shirts but I love them because it is a look that is easy for me to copy, even though our price ranges are significantly different. Sometimes Harry is seen wearing sweater vests that remind me of an older gentleman feeding ducks at a pond, which means his sweater vests are some of my favorite looks.

Love on Tour

With Harry Styles releasing his tour dates recently, it may seem like I’m writing this article and calling him a “style icon” in hopes that he will happen to find this article and give me free tickets to his show, and that’s part of the reason, but I truly do love his style and what he stands for. Harry often emphasizes the importance of kindness and acceptance, which can be seen at his shows. When performing, he sometimes wears outfits that may seem too flashy or unusual but that shows he is unapologetically himself. By being comfortable with himself, he is showing fans that it is acceptable to be whoever they want to be and wear whatever they want, even if someone else doesn’t approve. His concerts have become a safe haven for fans, like myself, around the world because we got to grow up with him. I don’t have tickets yet, but I am already getting my outfit ready for Harry Styles’ Love on Tour.

Written By: Maya Dixon
Photos By: Michael Leckie, Getty Images, Shutterstock, Helene Marie Pambrun, Robert Kamau

Sunflower Seeds: My Top 5 Places to Eat in San Diego

Food holds a very special place in my heart since I’m a Taurus, Italian, and a Chicago Native. These past 3.5 years of school have allowed me to find some of my favorite places to eat in San Diego, and I thought I would share them with you all! Today I would like to honor my top 5 places to eat in San Diego.

My number one absolute favorite place in San Diego is Sushi Diner 2. It is located off of Friars Rd, so it’s extremely close to SDSU. Sushi Diner 1 is the same thing but located a little further from College Area off of Mesa College Dr. The beachy décor makes you feel like your toes are in the sand and the sushi is out of this world. My favorite roll to get is the Shrimp Lovers Roll which includes shrimp tempura and crab in the inside and cooked shrimp, avocado, and fresh salsa on the outside. There are so many options to choose from, so you really can’t go wrong with anything. The fish is always fresh, and the prices are super affordable. If you are a fan of sushi, this is the place for you!

Taken from Instagram.

If the sound of paninis and brick oven pizza excites you, then you need to immediately stop over at Pappalecco. The closest location to SDSU is in Kensington, but they also have locations in Little Italy and Hillcrest. Some of my favorite items are there are the brick oven pizzas, fresh paninis, and creamy gelato. Every time I have visitors in town, I make sure I stop here! The location in Kensington offers a cozy atmosphere that really makes you feel at home. All of the staff members make an effort to get to know your name and they are all super friendly. This is great place to go to is you want fresh Italian food, wine, and a good time! Fun fact: the pizzas are half off on Tuesdays at the Kensington location to my knowledge! 

Taken from Instagram.

TJ Oysterbar is a place in San Diego that everyone needs to try at least once in their life. The authentic Baja seafood taste with turquoise walls will take you far away. Customers are able to experience traditional seafood with a new modern take without having to cross the border. Not only is the seafood flavorful, but the micheladas are to die for! I recommend going with a few friends, so you try as much of the food as possible! TJ Oyster Bar has three locations in Chula Vista, so find the one that’s right for you!

Taken from website.

If you’re anything like me, breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. Kono’s café in Pacific Beach is a must if you enjoy food with a view. Locals line up every day to come to this oceanfront surf-themed diner. I’m a big fan of breakfast burritos and they offer 5 different egg burritos that are all delicious! If you dine in, you can have a front seat view of Crystal pier and the surfers since they have a dining section overlooking the beach! There is a coffee stand right outside adjacent to the boardwalk, so you don’t have to wait in line to get your latte!

DSC07576.jpg
Taken from website.

Last but not least, Extraordinary Desserts is a must to try. I have a major sweet tooth and I like to indulge from time to time (maybe 4 times a week but whose counting). Extraordinary Desserts isn’t any ordinary dessert shop – hence the name. Every dessert is perfected to be beautiful and taste like heaven. I don’t even have a recommendation on what to get here because everything is that good. Each dessert has its own personality whether it is decorated with chocolate shavings or filled with colorful flowers. There are two locations: Little Italy and Bankers Hill. The line can get a bit long to order, but this is worth the wait!

Taken from website.

I know I put my top 5 places to eat, but there are so many more! I recommend following different San Diego food pages on Instagram so you can get some more inspiration. I’m always looking to try something new and San Diego always has just what I’m looking for.

P.S Don’t forget to keep up with Sunflower Hour!

Written By: Nina Capuani
(Photos taken from the restaurants websites and Instagram’s)

Why BTS Deserves a Grammy

Perhaps the most anxious group of people awaiting the 2020 Grammy Nominations on the morning of November 20 were the millions of fans of global superstars BTS.

ARMYs, as the fans are called, anxiously but patiently waited for 8 AM EST, only to be met with disappointment. After months of anticipation after BTS was first recognized by the Grammys; with an invitation to present at the 2019 Grammy Awards (where they did receive their first nomination for Best Recording Package), being photographed by the Academy’s official winners-only photographer, and even being invited to become voting members of the Recording Academy; the seven member Korean pop group was not given a single nomination.

Among those nominated were Beyonce, Billie Eilish, Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, and other huge names in music. All who were outsold and outperformed by BTS this year in both album sales and touring. So why were they left out of the nominations?

The most obvious arguments to make are cases of xenophobia and a disrespect for the K-pop genre and overall “boyband” world.

Comparisons to the absence of Grammys for groups like NSYNC, Backstreet Boys, and most recently One Direction are made against the argument of xenophobia/racism, but are still warranted. America especially has a notorious history with looking down upon the culture of boybands and their “crazed teenage girl” fans. The stigma around these artists creates a barrier that prevents most people from seeing their true talent and powerful place in the music industry. Those who are close-minded jump to the conclusion that popular artists only achieve their success through obsessed fans. But why are fans “obsessed” to begin with?

BTS is so much more than a “manufactured” group of attractive young men made to sell to teenage girls.

Take one dip into BTS’s discography and you will find many critically acclaimed songs spanning multiple genres, and a lot with beautiful lyrics and messages, such as “Reflection,” “Intro: Persona,” “Paradise,” and “Spring Day.” Go further and you’ll fall into the intricate “Bangtan Universe”: a series of cinematic music videos and short films that began with album The Most Beautiful Moment in Life Pt. 1 in 2015 that encompass an entire storyline beyond the music itself, which now includes a webtoon and a book to expand on the story. Some may say that this is all a ploy to make more money, but it is undeniable that this level of artistry and thought is rarely seen. 

BTS at the press conference for Map of the Soul: Persona from Big Hit Entertainment.

There is truly no one doing it like BTS.

One of their most recent achievements is releasing their third number one album this year alone, Map of the Soul: Persona, which was a record held only by The Beatles before BTS. Every member of BTS has a hand in writing/producing their music, as well. This record is not to be shrugged off with the notion that their songs are crafted for profit and mass consumption. BTS achieves what they do through their talent and dedication, and of course with support from ARMYs. 

Their Love Yourself: Speak Yourself world tour in support of Persona just wrapped up last month in Seoul and had an overall earning of $116.6 million. The sold-out stadium concerts came complete with a set design of giant panthers, a bounce house, and a full fireworks show

In the midst of celebrating their sixth anniversary with various special releases and fanmeetings/concerts, their single with Halsey “Boy With Luv” became their second song to become certified platinum. From the release of Persona in April to now, BTS’s entire discography has charted on iTunes three times, with the most recent being in response to the Grammys snub. Everywhere you look, BTS is achieving something new and continuing to make history.

BTS puts an insane amount of hard work and devotion into their art, which they have done since they first began (debuted) in 2013.

Even at home in South Korea, it took two years for them to receive recognition with a win from Korean music shows. The BTS members, and ARMYs, are no strangers to waiting for the recognition and appreciation they deserve. For years they have been overlooked, and while they have been awarded a few titles such as Top Duo/Group at the 2019 Billboard Music Awards, they deserve more.

BTS continues to prove that they deserve their spot as one of the top artists of all time and hopefully next year we will see that officially recognized by the Grammy Awards.

Written by: Emerson Redding