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

Spoiler-Free “Scream” Review

The latest addition to the “Scream” franchise came out last month after decades of sequels, remakes, television series, and parodies that would have left most franchises completely devoid of any good content. 

I’m a huge horror movie fan and the original “Scream” film is one of my all-time favorite movies so while I was excited to see the new installment, I went in with low expectations. However, I was pleasantly surprised by one of the most enjoyable horror films to come out in recent years. Unlike many films that have followed the same formula in the past, the new film seemed to capture and update what made the original 1996 “Scream” movie great. Clever writing with the self-awareness to the horror genre’s tropes, a cast of suspicious characters with potential motives, relevant comedy, and of course great kills. It took the basic “Scream” formula, the mysterious killer in the Ghostface mask violently picking off people in the town until the big reveal, and updated it without forcing modernity.

The script of the film read to me like it was written by someone who really loved and understood the original “Scream” movies. It started with an homage to the iconic opening phone call scene in the original Scream with Drew Barrymore (“what’s your favorite scary movie?”), but with updated dialogue to reference newer horror movies and current discourse surrounding what makes a scary movie good. The film followed the rules and pacing of the original story in the way a lot of horror remakes didn’t. The new Ghostface kept all the classic personality traits that made them a menacing but entertaining killer to watch. Stars Jenna Ortega and Melissa Barrera held their own as the film’s protagonists who would become both the victims and possible suspects of Ghostface’s violent acts. And while the dialogue was updated for a modern audience, the writing didn’t try too hard to push social commentary or create an exaggerated version of how adults think teenagers talk.

What made the movie so fun for me was the meta self-awareness. I was expecting another gory slasher packed with references to previous horror movies where we watch a group of protagonists fight for survival against Ghostface while they try to unmask the killers, but the film provided a more clever rendition of this. This film takes place within the world of film where the town is known for the bloody Ghostface murders of the ’90s, and the “Scream” movie franchise exists but is instead called “Stab,” a series of movie adaptations based on the “real” events of the past “Scream” movies. The main characters in the film are all aware of their town’s gruesome past and it helps inform their decisions throughout the movie. Both the real-life murders and the movies are referenced throughout the film in a variety of clever ways. The original characters also tie back in with the original story in a clever way. 

For example, there’s a scene in the film where a character watches the iconic scene from the 1992 “Scream” where Randy, the film’s horror movie nerd who lays out rules for survival throughout, watches a scene from an old horror movie while complaining about how dumb and unrealistic it is that the characters in horror movies never look behind themselves in movies. The irony of that scene is he is then killed because he didn’t see Ghostface sneaking up behind him. In the new film, this self-aware irony is taken to a new level when Mindy, the horror movie nerd of the new group of teenage protagonists who lays out rules for survival throughout the film, watches the reenactment of that scene in the “Stab” movie while laughing at the irony of Randy making fun of the character while not following his own rules despite that being his main character trait. In traditional “Scream” fashion, as she yells “look behind you,” Ghostface is creeping up behind her on the couch.

My main critique of the otherwise enjoyable film was some of the performances of the supporting cast. Because most of the main characters were teenagers there were a lot of newcomers in the supporting cast who didn’t match the energy of the stars. There were some characters I found unnecessary or annoying but I understood why they had to be there to add suspects for who the new Ghostface would be. They didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the film.

The movie was a lot of fun and the experience of seeing it went above any new horror movie experience in recent memory. It was the perfect blend of scary, funny, and over-the-top that made me love the original Scream. Because the reveals are what makes this movie so interesting, it’s hard to fully discuss without spoiling, but when the killers are revealed it’s a great payoff that feels like it could be joining the list of iconic scenes from the entire franchise. Without giving it away,  I thoroughly enjoyed the film as a whole and I’m looking forward to seeing the direction the franchise goes in.

3.5/5 Stars

Written by: Naiima Paul

A Conversation with Rachel Chinouriri

By Ceceli Riffo-Drecksel

Rachel Chinouriri

I had the absolute pleasure of interviewing Rachel Chinouriri to talk about her music, her vision, and her goals as an artist. You can stream her music here (Spotify) and follow her on TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter (@rachelchinouriri) 

The interview will air this Saturday 2/19 at 2:00 pm but you can get a sneak peak and read it all here: 

I am so excited to be here with Rachel Chinouriri! If possible could you tell me how to pronounce your last name. I don’t know if there is a specific way to say it. 

RC: Its Chin-ooo-ree-ree

Really? Yay! I was saying it correctly. 

RC: You know, whatever country you’re in, depending on your accent, it can be said anyway, I’m pretty easy. 

First off I was wondering if you could tell us a little bit about yourself. More about where you are from, maybe when you got into music. All of that 

RC: I am 23. I am from London, like Breton. London, was born in a place called Surry. But yeah, I have lived in London since I was 2. I went to a performing arts college called the BRIT School when I was 16. And did musical theater. And then when I was 18, I started songwriting and getting into the industry. And yes, since I’ve been 18 I’ve just been writing. I’ve been with the same team since. Um, what else is there about me? Musically that’s probably about it. I’ve just been writing, chugging along, trying to get my songs out.

That’s awesome. I haven’t actually been to Europe but London is definitely one of the first places that I want to hit when I finally make the trip. 

RC: If you come down call me and we can go for a party 

That sounds like a dream! My next question is more about your music and your sound. How would you describe your sound? I’ve seen that you have recently touched on that via social media but I was hoping you could elaborate a bit more on how you would classify your sound. 

RC: So, I think it’s taken some time to figure out exactly what to call my style, because lots of artists are genre bending all the time. Like, even now, you can’t even  define specific things sometimes. And I call myself indie alternative pop because I am always between the three. So whether its indie pop, or its alternative indie, or just indie or its just pop or its alternative. I’m just always just in the mix of those three, so I just call it indie alternative pop or alt indie pop. 

That’s a really cool way to classify it. I always tend to gear towards that genre well, not really genre but that style of music. 

RC: Yeah. I think there’s kind of an issue with playlists and artists I think cause racism and unconscious bias is very looked over where I think in America it’s very outspoken about but iN the UK if it’s happening it’s very brushed under the rug. But obviously, it affects everyone’s day to day life. So it’s just, it needs to be spoken about more. Definitely from a UK standpoint.

I agree that it is something that needs to be addressed more. Piggybacking off of that, I wanted to talk about some of the artists I saw that resposted your tweet. I am a huge Arlo Parks fan and saw she had reposted it. I was wondering, are you guys friends? 

RC: I met her when she had just released Cola. So she was really, really brand new. Like she was, she was brand new. And obviously, I was doing my own indie alternative thing. And she was like, the only other black girl who I’d seen doing like that indie alternative thing or in that realm.. She’s more indie. Like, very. Yeah. I was just like, whoa. And I met her a couple of times. And she’s lovely. But I think when you’re working in the industry, you’re always like, let’s meet up and then you do so much stuff that the next thing has been like two years and it’s like, whoa, so I would say that. We’re friends. We’re cool. We just, we just haven’t seen each other. Obviously, she’s shot off in that kind of amazing way. So she’s obviously very, very, very busy. And I’m very busy and I’m not even as big as her. I’m just like, no one’s gonna see her again. But we’ll probably see at some point, but she’s incredible and one of the nicest girls you’ll ever meet. 

It is so cool that there is someone else out there that you can kind of share this with. I love that. 

RC: And she would understand it as well, im probably sure that in her early days as she was figuring her stuff out she probably had similar things and which is even madder because her sound is so so indie but she probably remembers certain things where people are saying it is this and no you cant even put that onto Arlo, not categorically So yeah

I was wondering if you could walk me through how you kind of make a song? Is there a kind of formula that you follow? I would love it if you could walk me through that process

RC: Um, I would say when I write a song, it’s always with my friend, Dan. So I’m currently in LA and my friend Dan brought him along for the trip. But he understands me a lot musically. And it always starts I feel like early days, it always started with guitar and vocal and getting the core of the song. But as I’ve started branching into like the alternative electronic sort of world, I get very invested in the production. So it’s, it’s either we sit and play guitar and write the song and then produce it up. Or we’ll sit and make the rough chords to an extent, then and I’ll throw out all my ideas. And then while a producer’s working on it, I’ll start writing small things and melodies while they’re writing while they’re producing sorry. 

That’s awesome. Getting more into that, what would you say is where a lot of your inspiration comes from when you are making music? 

RC: Inspirations. I always say it’s like Coldplay, Daughter. I would say Lady Smith, Black Mambazo, a South African acapella group. So I always point those as my three main influences and inspirations because early Coldplay daughters with their ambiance and their electronic and how poetic they are. And lady smith is definitely like the harmonies, I kind of mix all of those together, then I love people like Sampha for like samples, like incredible. So yeah, I’d say those are like my, my early influences.

I am a huge Coldplay fan as well. I totally grew up on that. Somehow I just like know all of the words and I’m not even confident in the name of the song but it’s something that I just kind of know. 

RC: Exactly. Our spirits just know 

Oh yeah exactly. So what would you say is your favorite song you have created if you do have a favorite? 

RC: I always say Plain Jane is my favorite. I think the process of making that was a lot of fun, started as an acoustic guitar song literally like a little guitar tune. And then when we took that to the studio, I just didn’t expect it to turn out that way. But I always, it’s like, it’s my dream of what I wanted it to turn out as. And I worked with Adi Basten, and he’ll be the producer I’m always with, and literally the beginning that dun da dun. Like he just started playing that and I was like, right. It was just such a fun song to produce up. We are all  just in the studio, just being creative, adding noises, reversing sounds, and I just loved it so much.

That sounds so fun that whole process. I am not a musician myself but I would love to know how all of that works ya know behind the scenes there. 

RC: It is kind of mad cause like with music, definitely in your early days music is always creativity first, find the life experiences first it just so little pressure. And then as it starts to become your job and you start to not forget but you start to drift out of that. And that’s what sometimes leads you to writer’s block. So you have to go back to being creative, etc. so that for that moment and making that EP was just a lot of fun and I really loved it 

I love the way you put that because I could see how it would be hard to remember that at times. Keeping what you just said in mind but also moving forward. What would you say are your goals as an artist? As you are growing and all of that. 

RC: Um, I would like to meet Coldplay as much as anyone could say anything. If I met Coldplay, I will be ready to retire. And then apart from meeting COldplay, I think I just want to be able to have projects that are so clean and the story is so clear within them that when I look back when I’m older I can be like I was really proud of this album. I want every album, every EP, every project to be a pinpoint where I can remember it like my first Ep, I remember that I was, you know, a bit confused about myself but made something which was my four happy songs and four degrees is a whole story in itself. My next project I want to be a story in itself and so far it’s been going good and everything has been what I want. And I know that a lot of artists sometimes have to compromise that because they have to make hits, they have to make money, etc. And I feel very lucky that my team is very, obviously you have to think of those things. If you’re in the industry. They’re very, they put what I want creatively and artistically, first always so yeah.

That is definitely a big type of issue within the industry so that’s really special that you have your creative freedom. Thinking about future trajectory, where do you see yourself in a year?

RC: In a year’s time, I want to,  well it’s weird cause a goal for myself was to hit half a million monthly listeners by the end of this year. Because last year when I started on Tik Tok, I think I had like 90,000 And I was like, I want to hit 100,000 and then in December I went from like 200,000 to half a million within like the space of one month so I’m like wow. I think my goal would be to get a million monthly listeners by the end of this year. I want to be able to sell out a gig  quicker than what I sell them out as I want to be able to hit a point where it’s like taking a day or two to sell out. Yeah. And I want to go on tour with cool artists. I don’t know what artists yet, but I want to go on tour with very cool artists. Because I haven’t done that yet. But I might have one in the Woodworks. So yeah.

That’s exciting. So with live performances do you have a specific show that you did that you would say was your favorite or you are most proud of?

RC: I’ll say my most recent one actually.  Roundhouse in London. It was for a festival called Brick in the Wall with Hak Baker. And Round House, I don’t know if you know, but it’s like an incredible venue in London. And the sound in that space is like incredible. Usually very big artists perform there so the fact I got to perform there was very very lucky and yeah the space was just incredible. The crowd was incredible. The sound was the best I had it,  even with my ears. I felt confident and then the crowd was really receptive of the show. Yeah, it was kind of like a train

I am not familiar with it but now I am going to go look up pictures of it. I’m dying to know 

RC: it’s literally a massive circle and even when you’re like backstage like all the corridors are curved and all the rooms really sick

That’s awesome. Do you have a favorite song to perform?

RC: Either if only, so my darling or darker place probably in that order. If only I get the crowd to sing back. Yeah, so my darling always goes down well. You always got people crying. You don’t want them to cry but they’re crying and that’s a good reaction. Darker place get people clapping along for darker place. Always Always. Always fun. Yeah. 

Darker place actually was the first song I heard of yours. It showed up on my discover weekly and normally I just go through and just like start it from the beginning and then kind of listen and when I hear something I like I tend to look deeper. I heard your song and began to look through your whole discography and was immediately like woah, who is she? I need to meet her and I want to hear about everything. 

RC: and here we are 

Yes! Here we are. So do you have any projects you are currently working on? I guess since you are in LA right now you probably do but yeah do you have any exciting plans for the future ya know within like this next year. 

RC: So I’m going on my first tour this year. I’m doing a couple of festivals in London. Obviously it’s my first time in LA. So this was an Exciting start to the year. And then I’m writing an EP. I’m releasing an EP first but I’m in LA to write hopefully for an album, just get more songs,. meet more people, obviously meet different people. I always work with the same groups of people. So meeting with people in LA, and seeing their approach to writing and stuff is really cool. So yeah, hopefully I can write towards like an album or bigger project. But yeah, currently working my focus is my EP currently.

That is so awesome and I can’t wait for that to be released. Going back to venues, do you have a dream venue you would like to perform at? 

RC: The O2 is always one that would be killer. That arena is killer. If I could ever sell that out. My brain is like I could never but I’m like, I know so many sweet friends of mine who started music and they were like, I could never and now they’re selling out and now they’re doing it so I’m like it’s possible but we shall see but I’d say that’s like a in my life if I could ever perform there in whatever capacity it is that would make me very happy 

That would be so amazing and I really hope to see you do that one day. I don’t have any more questions for you but do you have anything else to add?

RC: Anything to add? Um, well LA is really lovely and I am a very happy girl. 

I am really excited to see where you keep growing and I am excited to see you hit that 1 million. I’ve sent like literally all of my friends your music cause i told them I am interviewing you and told them they have to listen

RC: Yay! I love hearing that. When you come to London we can hang out. 

I am looking forward to it and I know you are very busy creating and whatnot so I won’t keep you any longer. But thank you so much for doing this it was seriously a pleasure 

RC: Hopefully we see each other at some point. Thank you so much! 

Thank you Rachel, Bye!