LANY Concert Cal Coast Open Air Theatre

On a heated Wednesday night, claiming Cal Coastal for one night only, LANY entices the wild crowd awaiting a night of headbanging to heartbreak. The duo set two up-and-coming artists, Annika Bennett followed by Surfaces, to open the show. Annika Bennett and Surfaces produced contradicting sounds that, if put together, capture the sound of LANY. Bennett’s music focuses on the feeling of heartbreak, whereas Surfaces’ music fits in the genre of indie beach pop. 

LANY, or Jake Clifford Goss and Paul Jason Klein who make up the band, are known for their heart wrenching indie/alternative bedroom pop tracks. Band member Paul Jason wishes to stray away from the genre; however, their album “Malibu Nights” would beg to differ.

Paul Klein, frontman/lead singer for LANY came out with a stellar energy matched by the audience. Jumping onto a lifted platform on stage prompted the crowd to jump from their seats. Mr. Klein has been known for bringing the vocals to LANY tracks, but has proved to their passionate fan-base he has more than just an angelic voice. From strumming guitar strings to running his fingers along a keyboard; Klein provoked a different type response from the audience, passion. Jake C. Goss, the partnering half of LANY, stayed behind the scenes, claiming comfort at the drums. Goss brought passion to every rhythm played. Until, Paul Jason Klein brought him front and center for a properly deserved introduction.

Commemorating the success of their sold out show, LANY featured songs from their four albums and debuted a new single, “Congrats.” On an unforgettable night, the crowd poured their hearts into screaming each lyric from songs, such as, “cowboy in la,” “pink skies,” and “ilysb.” LANY was the only music heard throughout the San Diego skies.   

Entering the Open Air Theater all my expectations were blown out of the water. Sure, I’ve listened to LANY on occasion, more-so in the past than now (back when Les Priest was the third piece to the band), but they completely regained my interest. 

Each song had its own story, not just lyrically, but the stage design created a visual story for each song. Artistic experiences are often limited to one emotion; although, throughout LANY’s set each song meant something different to each fan. A vast majority of the songs performed (or LANY songs in general) pertain to heartbreak or unfortunate scenarios. The concert goers were people passionately reminiscing on their own heartbreak. The lights could be bright and the instruments could be heavy hitting, but some attendees could be seen crying, while others are dancing. 

From the raging crowd fiercely following every lyric, to the band portraying each song with marvelous grit, each instrument vibrated the venue creating an unforgettable experience. I was fortunate enough to witness this first-hand.

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.

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.

Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, set to be fun romp through Roleplaying Games

It’s no secret that Dungeons and Dragons has made a significant return into popular media after its recent inclusion in hugely popular shows like Stranger Things and Critical Role. It’s thanks to these, and so many other passion projects, that D&D has become much less of a taboo topic and more of a welcomed piece of pop-culture. 

KCR was able to cover San Diego Comic-Con including the Hall H panel for the upcoming Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves film. Not only that, I was able to experience the Tavern Experience that came to downtown San Diego as a promotion for the 2023 movie.

When I realized the D&D movie panel was going to be one the first day and held in Hall H, the largest hall at the SDCC Convention Center, I was excited to say the least. After sitting with an older woman who was dressed as a character from the 1999 cult-classic film The Mummy for two hours, the panel finally started. Being an avid fan of the tabletop roleplaying game already, I was cautiously optimistic to see what the creative team had to present to the audience of 6,000 people piled into that one room. What they had to showcase was entertaining, to say the least.

So after the creative heads make their entrance on the stage they introduce the cast… I was not even remotely prepared for the caliber of talent they have for this movie. The proceed to announce Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, Regé-Jean Page, Justice Smith, Sophia Lillis, and Hugh Grant making his Comic Con debut. You could tell the moment they hit the stage that everyone in the cast was excited to be a part of this project, even Hugh Grant despite most of his answers to questions showing that he may not be entirely sure what Dungeons and Dragons is. 

The end of the panel released a trailer for everyone in the hall that would then be released to the public after the panel was over. In addition to that there was a QR code for everyone in attendance to experience the D&D Tavern Experience without having to wait in line! A chance to pretend I’m in a fantasy bar and I get to a dragon themed drink, sign me up!

Once I followed the address to the correct location, I was staring at this massive building with large wood pillars and a giant logo for D&D; I think I made it to the right spot. When it was my turn to enter the tavern I was awestruck by just how much detail and effort was put into the whole experience. There were skilled bartenders, workers dressed in knight armor, and even a few cultists! Not exactly sure if they were working there or not, but it added to the atmosphere for sure.

When I received my drink I quickly realized that it was just a Moscow Mule with some added color, but it did not take me out of the experience for a second. The staff gathered everyone around to take part in a bar chant and the faces everyone made while doing it was hysterical. It was so nice to see so many people who clearly enjoyed this fandom and realizing that they are not only allowed to enjoy this game but that it is getting its own movie too was such a surreal experience. 

As much as I wanted to stay in that tavern forever, a black dragon attacked everyone and the staff had to usher everyone out (between you and me, I think the dragon was just a cover so that way people weren’t waiting outside to get into the tavern forever). As much as I would love to recommend this to everyone reading to go and experience first hand, the tavern has already been stripped down and was gone before the last day of Comic Con. Hopefully, the tavern will make a return when the movie hits theaters in March 2023.

The main reason I wanted to write about this experience is to reassure anyone who may be hesitant about trying something new or experiencing something just because people tell you it is boring or a waste of time. If you are able to find enjoyment in something or you want to try something that people have deemed lame, just go for it. You may not be seen as cool for a little while, but who knows, maybe your interest will get its own movie starring Chris Pine. Try something new and grab life by the dice.