Mild High Club Concert

Mild High Club, an indie band known for their dreamy blend of psychedelia and jazz, performed at San Diego’s Observatory last Wednesday. Most known for their indie pop hits “Homage” and “Tessellation” off of their 2016 album “Skiptracing” , the band is the solo project of songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Alex Brettin who performs with a changing lineup of touring musicians. Alex is an LA based musician from Chicago who has been making music since 2012. The show featured a 6 piece band consisting of a bassist, drummer, rhythm guitarist, and two keyboardists joining Alex on stage. As  a longtime fan of “Skiptracing”, I was excited to see the band and curious to see how their lush music translated to the live stage. To achieve their laidback, atmospheric sound, their music is often extremely layered and rich with a mix of reverb soaked vocals and blends of all sorts of jazz instruments.

Mild High Club has attracted a loyal fanbase that created one of the more laidback yet engaging audiences of any concerts I’ve been to. By the time the opening act had finished his set, the Observatory was at full house capacity. It was an all ages show and the crowd seemed to reflect that with people of varying ages. Their wide appeal of the different genres they take inspiration from brought together a broad mix of people. The smooth psychedelic nature of their music attracted a lot of people, young and old, that I’d classify as having a hippie vibe. It generally wasn’t too pushy of a crowd, and I was able to make it to the front in part thanks to the kindness of a random girl who liked my outfit. The crowd was extremely interactive, and when they performed “Homage” most of the crowd began singing along. 

The entire performance was amazing. The band members had such a unique chemistry that made for a great experience. The mellow psychedelic guitar riffs and groovy bass lines sounded as crisp and clean as they did on their recorded songs that I’ve heard. Alex Brettin’s smooth jazz night-clubesque live vocals were also impressive, as was his incorporation of guitars, tabletop keyboards, and percussion instruments throughout the show. And being heavily jazz influenced, they dedicated large portions of their performance to improvisation. All the instrumentalists got a chance to have their spotlight, and they were all incredibly talented. They also at times provided backing vocals that harmonized with Alex, which sounded beautiful with the acoustics in The Observatory. I was particularly blown away by the two keyboardists’ complex solos and beautiful harmonies. Many of the band was also multi-talented, switching instruments at times.

I discovered new music through tracks of theirs I hadn’t heard. Their 2021 release was just as good, if not better than Skiptracing.  I was also surprised at how much I enjoyed the opener, indie artist J.W. Francis. His laidback energy and fun indie surf rock sound definitely set the stage for the great concert that followed.

Overall, it was a great show and I’m happy I got to go.

 My First Time at Comic Con!

If the previous few articles I have written for KCR haven;t been proof enough, recently I went to Comic Con for the first time. Cue the sound of someone dropping a wine glass. Now that the big twist has been revealed, I have always wanted to go to Comic Con for as long as I can remember. When I applied to try and get press passes for KCR to cover the event, this was a wild shot in the dark. I had no real idea if my letter would even be looked at, let alone accepted. But when I received an email in June that said I have received two press passes for Comic Con, I almost fainted from the excitement. Not only would I get to be living one of my lifelong goals of going to Comic Con, I get to cover it on behalf of my favorite organization on campus!

Not knowing the requirements needed to prepare for this adventure, I was blissfully unaware for the three weeks leading up to Comic Con. Then the second I received an announcement about what panels were going to be held on which days, I began to make a detailed itinerary that outlined the entire time. There were gaps for photos for the articles, there were highlighted panels in order of interest so I could have back up options in case I missed any, even scheduled bathroom breaks. Okay maybe not that last one, but you believed me for a second. All my anticipation funneled into the most focused work I have ever done before. Then it was Wednesday, Preview Night.

I made sure to leave with plenty of time to take the trolley from my apartment to the convention center. It was a pretty stress free trip with the usual experience: I needed to download a new trolley app, someone was listening to music without headphones right next to me, and two homeless people were screaming at each other until one of them pulled out pepper spray and used it in the cart. A standard trolley experience in San Diego.

When my eyes stopped stinging from the expired protective spray, I hopped off the trolley and made my way into the convention center and I was not prepared for what was waiting inside for me. Lines. Lots of people in a massive line. But after 30 minutes, the workers released the stampede of nerds and I made my way into the exhibit hall. I had no idea how big the exhibit hall was; it looked like it was longer than three football fields, easily. There were so many different tables ranging from Netflix to Hulu to Marvel to Blizzard. However, the tables that were the best ones to experience were the independent businesses that make their own nerdy shirts or bags or anything. Their hard work and dedication was so fun to interact with when it came to buying things at the exhibit hall, and I bought way too much.

Now remember how I had a press pass as my badge for Comic Con, well having no previous experience with press I decided to figure out what I could do. On Thursday, I wanted to check out the waiting area for Hall H. That is where the biggest announcements of Comic Con are held. The big announcement for Thursday was the upcoming Dungeons and Dragons movie, so I thought I would see how the line was set up to prepare myself for Saturday; Marvel Studios Panel. Seeing a line that stretched around the block and passed the Marriott across the street, I realized I was probably not getting in. I walked over to a security guard and asked where I could go to get back inside.

He pointed me over to a small line against the wall. There I met a lovely group of people who had covered Comic Con for years as press, hopefully they could explain to me how the convention worked for press. A few moments later, a person from IGN asked me if this was the press line for the D&D movie (shameless plug for my article breaking down this panel, go read it). Before I could respond, the people behind me said yes. I thought this was some cruel joke but after ten minutes passed, I was in Hall H and was about to see the D&D movie panel! So I guess that worked out.

After two more days of fumbling around and finding my way in multiple, insanely fun panels, I made it to the Comics@SDSU panel (shameless plug to read my other article about this panel). After this informative meeting that made me want to stay at SDSU for four more years to major in Comics Studies, it was time for the big Marvel panel. Now one thing to know is that people wait outside Hall H for days to secure a spot for the Marvel panel, so chances of making it into the panel were slim to none. I go to the same line I waited in on Thursday, praying to every god that I could somehow weasel my way into this. After two minutes, the person working the door said I was good to go in. As I was wiping the confetti off my head, this security guard walked me into the hall… and passed the seats… and all the way into the press box. I could literally touch the stage.

Within the press box, there were dozens of press people, some were the same friends I met on Thursday, all waiting to see Marvel since 7 in the morning. I was fortunate enough to only have to wait through two panels (4 hours) before Marvel Studios presented. When the lights dimmed and the Marvel theme started playing, I started to hyperventilate. I could not believe that I was there at that moment, mere feet away from all these celebrities that were portraying my favorite super heroes. I even got a thumbs up from Chris Pratt!

The words that were racing through my head as I tried to recall every minute of Comic Con were never ending. But I didn’t want to focus an entire article on what I did every day, but rather a snippet of the feelings that ran through me throughout the whole convention. I wanted to highlight my favorite part of Comic Con to end with something that I never really felt before this experience.

As I was bumping into all these people, waiting in line for all these panels, freaking out seeing all these celebrities, I was able to look all around me and everyone was feeling the exact same things. It was a foreign concept for me to see so many people proudly displaying what they are passionate about and what they love. What I love. It wasn’t easy being a comic book nerd before all these movies started coming out (yes, I beat you all to it, no need to get upset). It was hard for me to find people who knew or cared about the same things I did, but being able to see people of all different shapes, sizes, backgrounds, it helped me understand that no one is alone in their passions. There are always people out there who love the same things you do, no matter how weird or nerdy they may be. So keep looking for your nerd herd, they are somewhere out there. They are probably just stuck in line at a panel for the next big announcement. Man, there are way too many lines at these conventions.

Comics@SDSU Comic-Con Panel Reveals Exciting Future for Comic Studies

SDSU held a panel at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con about the upcoming Major and Minor in Comic Studies here at SDSU. It was such an exciting thing to witness, not only as my first time at SDCC, but also as a student at SDSU to see so many faculty speaking about comics in such a passionate and educational way. The panel structured how the upcoming curriculum would lay out as well as all the various focuses that can be selected within the Comics Studies area.

The faculty talked about how the long history of great artists that have been creating comics for 100’s of years had inspired them to look into this possible future education path. But it wasn’t until they all noticed that so many professors were making small, one off classes focused on pop culture and comics that they realized how viable this curriculum could be. 

During the pandemic, the staff spent months over Zoom putting together the curriculum to win SDSU’s Great Big Idea Program, a grant given to those projects that SDSU deems worth it. What they currently have created is 4 workshops open to the public (one a semester) with the aim of Fall 2024 to have one new Comic Studies Certificate. There are many different focuses revolving around comics such as censorship, global panic, and even the LGBTQ+ movement. The specific image below showcases the modern iterations of comics’ example of “Queer Coding”, which will be one of the focuses in an upcoming course.

If any of this is of interest, there is currently the Center for Comics Studies at San Diego State University which explores all types of comics through an analytical and research-oriented approach. Within SDSU’s library, you can have access to over 100,000 comics, learn about how comics can transform humanity, and even join an active student comics club. 

There are many exciting new programs coming to San Diego State University, and pretty soon Comic Studies will be jumping off the page and into the classroom.

Roomies Talkin’ Movies Ep 82: Comic(Getting It)-Con

It’s that time of the year people, Comic-Con has made it’s way back to San Diego! Not only was the celebration this year the first one to be held in person in over three years, but we also had one of the Roomies there to cover it! Join the gang as Camden and Jackson are caught up with the exclusive clips dropped at SDCC that Danan was able to see and don’t miss out on the latest reveals and trailers of the newest projects! Everyone came to Comic Con with their A-game this year, and DC was there also…