Sleeping With Sirens and Bring Me The Horizon at Viejas Arena

Sleeping With Sirens and Bring Me the Horizon, two veterans in the alternative scene, returned to San Diego with full force at Viejas Arena on Saturday, October 19.

Thirteen year old me is living by having the opportunity to photograph both Sleeping With Sirens and Bring Me The Horizon. Now, I want to paint a picture of thirteen year old me. I loved One Direction (still do) and stumbled across a Sleeping With Sirens video on YouTube. “If I’m James Dean, You’re Audrey Hepburn” changed my music taste and life. Now, I am thrown into my emo phase, wearing beanies so far on the back of your head that it is about to fall off, along with two arms full of the rubber band bracelets from Hot Topic. I credit Sleeping With Sirens as the band that got me into this music and I thank them for that.

My freshly fourteen year old self decided to beg my mom to let me go to Warped Tour since both Sleeping With Sirens and Bring Me The Horizon were playing that year. She said yes, which led to one of the most fun days of my childhood. I got to meet Sleeping With Sirens, and you guessed it, I cried. My friend Amanda, who also dragged her mom along, also cried along with me since we just met our heroes. Now, this was my first ever concert that was not pop music. I was at barricade for Sleeping With Sirens, and when my mom saw all the crowd surfers, she was blowing up my phone. She thought I was going to get absolutely crushed, but I was just mad at her for interrupting my recording of “Congratulations.”

Later on in the day, we all got to see Bring Me the Horizon. This was shortly after their album Sempiternal came out, so they played “Antivist.” If you don’t know that song, I recommend listening to it so you can understand my mom’s horror. The crowd was filled with people with their middle fingers up, screaming the lyrics back. After that, my mom told me I was never to listen to them again, and I am pretty sure Amanda’s mom said the same thing to her.

Apparently the “never listening to them again” thing did not last for long, because Amanda and I saw Bring Me The Horizon again in the following February. This time we got to see them at their own headlining show. We both thought it was a very smart idea to wear shorts, in Toronto, right next to Lake Ontario. An even better decision we had was to wait in line outside for an hour or two before giving up and heading back to our moms in the car. That show still lives up as one of the best concerts I have ever been to.
It is really funny to think about how my mom went to tell me that I could never listen to Bring Me The Horizon, to now loving them. “Can You Feel My Heart” is her absolute favorite song. She is a way bigger fan of Sleeping With Sirens and even had me download their cover of “Iris” to her phone off YouTube.

Since then, I have obviously grown up, being twenty years old. When I saw that these two bands would be touring together, I was excited. I became even more excited when I found out that I would be photographing the show. This threw me back into my emo phase, and I had never been more pumped for a concert.

Sleeping With Sirens started out the night. The majority of the songs they played came from their new album, How It Feels to Be Lost. They only played five old songs, coming from albums such as Let’s Cheers To This and Madness. The songs they played were: “Leave It All Behind,” “Never Enough,” “Tally It Up: Settle the Score,” “Better Off Dead,” “Blood Lines,” “Medicine (Devil In My Head),” “Break Me Down,” “Agree to Disagree,” “How It Feels To Be Lost,” “Kick Me” and “If You Can’t Hang.”

Being up close in the photo pit was amazing. I love all the energy that they exude when on stage. After leaving the photo pit, I got to sit in the stands and watch the rest of their set. Seeing how wild the crowd was going for them was absolutely awesome. I had never seen them play at their own show, only at Warped Tour. It was so exciting to see how they interact and hype up the crowd.

Following Sleeping With Sirens, Bring Me The Horizon headlined the night. Since I have not seen them since 2014, they have majorly upgraded their shows. They have an amazing stage set up, matching outfits, and even dancers. They played a total of fifteen songs: “MANTRA,” “Avalanche,” “The House of Wolves,” “Medicine,” “Wonderful Life,” “Shadow Moses,” “Sugar Honey Ice & Tea,” “Happy Song,” “Nihilist Blues,” “Antivist,” “Mother Tongue,” “Can You Feel My Heart,” “Follow You,” and “Throne and Drown.”

Getting to see one of my favorite songs from the photo pit was an experience I will never forget. Also, shoutout to the lovely people I met at the barricade. Once I left the photo pit, I made my way down to my seat to watch the rest of the show. General admission was absolutely insane. The pits were constantly going crazy, with Oli Sykes, the singer, hyping everyone up.

They brought a fan up on stage for their song “Antivist,” which is something that they have been doing on this tour. Oli also thanked the crowd for being the reason he is alive, which was very touching. My favorite part of the show was during their last song. Oli came down into the general admission area, walked around, and sang “Drown” with fans surrounding him. He even made his way up to the seated area, right next to me. He finished the song on the stage and thanked the crowd over and over again.

This had to have been one of the best shows I have seen in a long time. The crowd was also so into the music and so into the bands. The energy in the arena was unreal. If you get a chance to see this tour or any of these bands on tour, do it. You will not regret it.

You can listen to Sleeping With Sirens’ new album here, and Bring Me The Horizon’s new album here.

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

Behind the Mic: The Flow w/ De Leon

Mikel De Leon

In this segment of Behind the Mic, we examine the wild life of thrill-seeker / adventurer / local lunatic, Mikel De Leon!

A gift (or curse, depending on how you look at it) has been bestowed upon Mikel De Leon: the need to always be doing something that increases his heart rate. It drove him to pick up soccer when he was 4 years old. Then surfing. Then, in November of last year, he bought a motorcycle.

Two months later, his body was lying in the middle of the freeway after being struck by a car.

“All I could think of was ‘Get up, get back on your bike, go home. Tell your dad you’re sorry. Everything’s ok,’ ” De Leon said about the incident that sent him to the hospital. He couldn’t get up, though. He didn’t have the physical strength to collect himself despite not feeling any pain, because his body had already gone into shock. Miraculously, to his (and his doctor’s) disbelief, he didn’t break any bones or even damage his brain. He did, however, injure his ankles, knees, shoulders, left wrist and lower back. Now, he’s grateful to be recovering at a relatively quick pace, but in all honestly, he just wants to surf again.

“I’m just like ‘Come on, I want to get back in the water. Let’s go!’”

Mikel De Leon

Mikel (MEE-kehl) De Leon is the host of “The Flow with De Leon,” which airs Thursdays at 8 a.m.

Although De Leon won’t be getting back on a motorcycle any time soon (or hopefully ever considering he’d like to be alive as long as possible and healthy enough to one day teach his future children how to surf), he’s still finding ways to scratch his adrenaline-seeking itch. At first, soccer scratched it for a while, but he began to lose interest in it after over a decade of playing. He wanted to replace it with something equally athletic to keep the weight off. The activity would also need to be peaceful and leave him in a serene mental state.

Mikel De Leon being the coolest cat around.
Photo by Monica Vigil. Coolness by Mikel De Leon

Surfing fit the bill.

“Surfing was just like, dude, everyone loves a surfer. Of course I’m going to get into it. It turns out, it’s not like that. But it’s ok. As long as I’m out there with my friends surfing, that’s all I care about. As long as I catch at least three good waves per day, I’m good.”

Mikel De Leon

Since the accident, De Leon hasn’t been able to surf and as a result, he’s been growing impatient to return to the ocean. He currently lives in Imperial Beach, a sandy, laid-back beach city in southern San Diego, just a hop and a skip away from the sea. Beforehand, De Leon would wake up every morning and make his way to the water with a surfboard in hand to catch a few waves before school or work.

“Sometimes I wouldn’t even shower because the waves were that good. I’d go straight to work and they’d know. They’d be like ‘Dude, there’s sand in your ear.’”

Mikel De Leon

His life appears to come in seasons, packaged up in different themes depending on the chapter. Sometimes he’s a chill surfer, a passionate soccer player, or even a temporary motorcyclist.

Long, soft hair totally by Mikel De Leon and genetics.
Photos by Monica Vigil. Long, soft hair totally by Mikel De Leon and genetics.

And now? He’s a radio host.

His brother attended Georgetown University and had a late night radio show at his college station. De Leon remembers listening to it and deciding he wanted to do that one day. One day after he transferred to San Diego State University from Southwestern College, he saw a sign promoting KCR and the rest has been a joyful, musical ride. His show heavily features groovy indie sounds like Homeshakeand Yellow Days, peppered in with bedroom pop. Want to tune in and listen to a combination of Beach Goons, Temporex, Minor Gems and Oak Palace? Do it! He’s plays them all.

What’s unique about “The Flow with De Leon” is that many episodes are themed (kind of like his life). One episode was full of music he would play if he owned a low-rider, featuring oldies, cholo goth, cumbia and the iconic Selena Quintanilla. He’s also had some dirty rock and reggae days, amongst many others.

An avid consumer of music, De Leon has even begun singing and creating his own tunes.

“I started off doing stupid, little, fun projects where I wasn’t taking it seriously,” he said. His friends, however, told him that he was good. He began to experiment with genres and searched for his sound in pursuit of turning the fun hobby into something more serious. Influenced heavily by Tame Impala, he plans on releasing an EP sometime in the summer. De Leon is implementing a deadline on himself or else he’ll “never release it.” He watched a short documentary about the singer of Tame Impala, Kevin Parker, and how he also had to give himself deadlines or else he would never publish his music, always trying to perfect it. It inspired De Leon to try the same approach.

“I need to set a date because if not, this is going to be a never ending cycle.”

Mikel De Leon

Be sure to listen to his shows and start your Thursday mornings right. You never know what theme you’ll stumble upon. Also, come summertime, remind him that he’s got an EP to release.

His favorite modern band?

Tame Impala (duh.)

Feel free to follow Mikel De Leon on Instagram. You can listen to his Spotify playlists here and here.

Written by: Monica Vigil

Behind the Mic: Scarlett Letter

Fluttering between three jobs, classrooms, the KCR studio and the rave scene, Scarlett Santamaria of “Scarlett Letter” is a social butterfly always on the move.

Scarlett, a 4th year communications major, is the host of the aptly named “Scarlett Letter,” an underground electronic music show that brings in guests to share their music and their stories. The show is now on its second season and airs Thursdays at 8 p.m.

Scarlett Letter brings in DJs, producers and experience creators every week to play their music mixes and discuss their own personal experiences, as well as contribute to the larger dialogue about the EDM world. The topic of the show is not a casual interest of Scarlett’s – it’s pretty much her life. It all began when Scarlett was 16 and attended her first rave, Scream, at the Worldbeat Center in Balboa Park, San Diego.

I remember going in and everyone was really happy and really nice, and all these lights and the music and I thought, ‘Wow. This is amazing,’” she recalled.

Born and raised in Tijuana, Mexico, Scarlett moved to San Diego when she was 12 years old. Despite her bubbly nature and willingness to talk to anyone, she said she always felt like an outsider. That feeling could have left her defeated and stripped of passion, but she discovered the rave scene and found her home.

“I used to be a scene kid, like I used to dress up crazy. I’ve always been a weirdo,” she said. “I’ve always been an outcast, and I’ve been able to just embrace it and not be ashamed of the weirdo that I am. I feel like I was able to find that outlet through going to raves and just being myself. I think that’s what is beautiful about it and why I’m so passionate about it.

Photo courtesy of Scarlett Santamaria

The goal of Scarlett’s show is to allow listeners to get to know the guests on a deeper and more personal level, uncover electronic music they might not have heard before, stay up to date with upcoming EDM events and learn about the music scene from people living it, not from stereotypes.

“I think that some people have the negative notion that electronic music is just noise and that all DJs do is press play, and that people that go to these events are young and do drugs. I want to change that,” Scarlett said. “The scene is very welcoming and is full of amazing, creative, friendly and talented individuals.”

Last semester, her show was structured in a way that allotted more time to playing the guests’ music than interviewing them. This is something Scarlett wants to change this season.

She wants to make sure the people she brings to the studio have sufficient time to talk about their journey, passion and the obstacles they have had to overcome in order to get to their current status.

“I want people to know that these artists work hard and to hear the challenges they’ve had to face to get where they are,” she said. “We all have a story and you’d be surprised how much you can relate to them.”

Scarlett’s own story has its origins in DJing.

Her father was a popular DJ in Tijuana, Mexico and San Diego, California. When she was born, he shifted his focus to parenting and leading a more conventional adult life in order to provide for her. “Of course, I happened and he stopped,” Scarlett laughed.

Eight years ago, he began to DJ again and this time, he taught Scarlett everything he knew. The two had a mobile DJing business together but after feeling like she was ready to branch out, Scarlett started her own business entity separate from her father’s.

She has played many gigs from private birthday parties to Petco Park, the San Diego Padres’ baseball stadium. She said she has enjoyed the experience, both the technical and social aspects.

“I was still under 21 and I felt super cool being a DJ,” Scarlett said. “It was a really great experience getting to know people, being in the event and being part of the production.”

Despite calling the experience “really fun,” Scarlett has shifted gears and no longer focuses on her DJ business. She is turning her attention to new ventures such as Scarlett Letter and getting involved in event production.

With so many interests and projects, Scarlett pays extra attention to detail to make sure she is producing work of the highest caliber.

“I am not the type of person that will half-ass anything,” she said. “I will give you my hundred percent. I want to create something good.”

Scarlett Letter has grown into something beyond her imagination. What she thought would just be a fun show to act as a platform for her friends’ art has turned into a partnership with sponsors.

Photo courtesy of Scarlett Santamaria

Techniche is one of Scarlett’s partnerships and describes itself on its website as “a Southern California underground dance institution with global reach and universal aspirations representing Tech-House and Techno…” DJ and Producer Myxzlplix headed the Techniche team that helped Scarlett with her show’s logo, banner and promotional pictures, to name a few things. She said she’s incredibly grateful to them for believing in her and helping her turn her show into what it has become.

Be sure to tune into her show on Thursdays at 8 p.m. She’ll save a spot for you on the dance floor. Also, be sure to check out her YouTube channel.

Is she a pineapple on pizza gal?

“Yes! Sometimes I love a combination of sweet and salty. People that don’t like pineapple on pizza are basic.”

Written by: Monica Vigil

Behind the Mic: Moonlit Mayhem

Just like the moon’s gravitational pull causes the rise and fall of ocean tides, Moonlit Mayhem aims to create similar passion-filled sound waves.

Mario Sutka is the host of Moonlit Mayhem, which airs Thursdays from 10 p.m. to midnight. The music show, now on its fourth season, is free-flowing and listeners never know what they’re going to get— just the way Mario likes it.

“It’s experimental to a degree,” said Mario. “Not the music that I play, but just the formatting. Really, it’s just whatever I’m feeling off the top of my head.”

And he’s not just trying to supply his audience with new songs. He’s offering them a range of emotions packaged up as melody and lyrics. How do you form a human connection when there’s air waves between two people? Mario’s on a mission to find out.

During the show’s first season, Mario and his co-host at the time used to plan the music in advance and save the last five minutes for songs they chose on the spot. He soon realized that he favored the freedom and flexibility of picking the music while the show was happening.

The music began mirroring his mood in real time and almost acted as a radio diary of what his emotions were during a given show. His aim, however, isn’t to archive his own feelings. It’s to expose good music and wavy vibes.

“Once in a while, I’ll interview my friends that are in bands around San Diego. It’s really the DIY rock scene in San Diego, but I do listen to everything,” he said. “There’s a bunch of people I got to know when I went to community college and now I have a platform to promote their stuff.”

In between songs, you won’t hear Mario getting into lengthy discussions. He prefers to let the music do most of the talking. The self-proclaimed music nerd plays a healthy mix of pump-up jams and chill songs in order to produce a balance for his listeners.

“To me, a piece of music is wonderful because ignite a fire in you or calm you.”

Mario being Mario

Mario from Moonlight Mayhem

Mario is the marketing director of KCR, in charge of the radio station’s social media and Music on the Mesa (MotM).

MotM is hosted Thursdays at the farmers’ market. A KCR booth is set up from noon to 1 p.m. and staff members play music, give away concert tickets and talk to inquisitive minds about what opportunities they can find at KCR. It’s how Mario first found out about the radio station.

He is now in charge of running the event, and though it is one more responsibility he is committed to, he doesn’t see it as a burden. Quite the opposite, in fact.

“I like my alone time but I like being around people. I need a good blend and Music on the Mesa gave me that.”

Mario is all in when it comes to KCR. He hosts Moonlit Mayhem, a two-hour show every week and did a season in the summer. He’s on the board of directors and the face of the organization on Thursdays in the farmers’ market. Mario could be considered, by all means, a college radio superstar.

However, it wasn’t always this way. He used to be a division 1 swimmer at California State University, Bakersfield and had grown accustomed to seeing himself as a swimmer first, anything else second.

He sustained a career-ending injury during his freshman year and his world seemingly began spinning off its axis. The identity he’d built for more than 10 years was suddenly gone.

“I thought I’d just cut my losses and come back home,” he said about the life-altering event.

The transition was onerous and at times, discouraging, as most students who have had to return to community college after attending a university can relate to.

Mario chose to focus his perspective on the silver linings that came with returning to his hometown of San Diego, such as attending SDSU and being clearer with his goals before graduation.

“I just kind of want to use my show, crazy enough as it sounds, as a beacon where it’s ‘Hey, somebody’s out there.’ Not to be a super emotional water sign or whatever, but it doesn’t have to suck. It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.”

So how does someone alone in a studio generate a bond with listeners they don’t get to see? Mario’s still trying to figure it out, but he knows music has the power to do it.

Be sure to listen to his show, chat him up at Music on the Mesa and follow KCR College Radio on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Since he’s, you know, in charge of the accounts now.

Moonlight Mayhem babe

Happy Mario

What does he miss most about being in elementary school?

The childlike wonderment he had about everything and the optimism about what was yet to come.

 

Written by: Monica Vigil