“We’re at the Top of the World”: A Night with Saint Luna

On March 11, alternative, indie, psychedelic rock SDSU-based band, Saint Luna, rocked
their hearts out at their sold-out show at the SOMA Sidestage. I had the fantastic opportunity to
film content on stage during the show and go backstage as well! Gaining traction in the Southern
California music scene through social media platforms, Saint Luna was able to open alongside
The Happy Return for well-known indie-surf rock band, Sun Room, at their North Park
Observatory show in June. What I find so surreal about all of this is that I discovered Saint Luna
at a bonfire I attended two years ago, so this whole experience was a very full-circle moment.

The night kicked off with DSCO and Honeyboys, but I, unfortunately, missed their sets.
However, I was able to catch Blue Hour’s set just in time. Blue Hour, an indie-pop SDSU-based
band, kicked off their set by playing their first single “July”, which was just released in
December. They engaged with the crowd by providing beach balls for them to throw around
during their set, and encouraged everyone to dance and sing along with them! They played
various covers, with an obvious fan favorite being ‘Can I Call You Tonight’ by Dayglow. They
even covered ‘I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor’ by Artic Monkeys, which the crowd
thoroughly enjoyed dancing around to. Before Saint Luna came onto the stage, Blue Hour ended
their set by covering ‘Doses and Mimosas’ by Cherub. As they said their goodbyes, they
mentioned how they would be by their merch stand if anyone wanted to stop by to say hello.
These boys definitely left a lasting impression on the crowd, for chants of “one more song” arose
when their set came to a close.

Screams and claps of joyous fans filled the room as soon as Saint Luna ran out on stage.
Full of eagerness and excitement, the crowd was already jumping around and moshing within
the first song. While jamming out, it became clear how passionate Saint Luna was about playing
music. Not only did their chemistry show while performing, but they were constantly jumping
around having fun, supporting one another during solos, and checking in on one another. This
stood out to me, because seeing them interact with one another with such caring and positive
attitudes was very genuine. Lead singer and guitarist, Bradyn Jace, excited the crowd when he
mentioned he “expected” them to form moshpits throughout the show, and reminded them to
also be safe if taking part. From crowd surfing to backflips in the center of moshpits, the crowd
was full of energy. As contagious smiles never left the crowd and the stage, the band kept the
original songs coming playing ‘Voodoo Doll’, ‘Katz’s Garage’, ‘I Feel It’, ‘wyd 2 me’, ‘Roses’ and
‘Goldfish’. Guitarist, Wick Hauser, took over the mic as he sang ‘Conceited’, and drummer
Paarsa Heidari switched spots with Jace to sing ‘My Friend’, a song dedicated to his father’s
passing. The crowd was left in awe during these songs and some fans proceeded to light the
place up with their phone flashlights. Saint Luna didn’t stop there. The band joked about
covering songs by “underground artists”, then proceeded to play ‘Come Together’ by the Beatles and ‘Time’ by Pink Floyd. The band finally said their goodbyes and thanked everyone for coming
to support them, then disappeared backstage.

“Encore! Encore! Encore!” was repeated shortly after the boys left the stage. As I was
briefly backstage with them, they mentioned how they didn’t anticipate having an encore. As
they came to a consensus, they re-entered the stage and fans were quick to run back in from
previously exiting. They finished off the night by covering ‘Sex on Fire’ by Kings of Leon and ‘As
It Was’ by the one and only, Harry Styles. The crowd screamed the lyrics, in unison and
satisfaction, one last time before heading their separate ways.

Niche Memes, Sunflowers, and Kånken Backpacks: A Night With Cuco

Last Wednesday, March 1st, I had the opportunity to travel back in time to 2017 with Cuco at the Observatory. Back in high school, Cuco was one of my favorite artists, but this was the first time I’ve gotten the chance to see him live. The show started early, and with no opener the band took the stage at 8:30.

For many, the name Cuco brings up memories of a specific aesthetic: high-waisted jeans, succulents, and the color yellow backed by dreamy bedroom pop hits. Artists like Clairo, Banes World, and Temporex are often named alongside Cuco as giants of the bedroom pop genre, defined by its warbly guitars, synth beats, and lo-fi vocals. With the release of his albums Songs4u and wannabewithu, Cuco took the indie scene by storm and garnered a large following from 2016-2018. His airy melodies mixed with lyrics on love and yearning fit perfectly with the niche aesthetics of online communities at the time. Cuco’s music was a staple of that time period, so going into the night I was excited to basque in the nostalgia of my young high school years.

Cuco’s most recent album, Fantasy Getaway, reveals a shift away from his signature lo-fi pop to a more psychedelic sound with heavier bass and defined guitar. Drawing on a clear Tame Impala influence, Cuco seemed to be excited about finding his new sound. However, his early songs remained the most popular, and they had the audience dancing the entire night. The crowd was tuned in for every song, but was sparked with energy when Cuco played hits like “Bossa No Sé”, “Lover Is a Day”, and “Dontmakemefallinlove”. He even performed his popular Spanish songs like “Piel Canela”, and the crowd went wild.

Cuco by Sofia Dell’Aquila

Throughout the show, Cuco expressed his gratitude for the amount of fans at the show, as well as the ability to play at a venue like the Observatory. However, I was surprised to see the amount of people there, and even more so that the show sold out. Cuco is no stranger to controversy, and rumors about sexual assault allegations against him and the band had circulated around the internet a couple years back, even leading one member to get kicked out. Presumably due to this, he spoke out about his journey to sobriety and his desire to be a strong role model for the audience and the Chicano community–admitting that he didn’t do a “good job” before. Nonetheless, his love for his fans was apparent, and he made sure to thank them often for attending, giving the large venue a sense of intimacy.

At around 9:30, he exited the stage and returned shortly with a roaring encore. The band jumped straight into a rendition of “Lo Que Siento”, one of Cuco’s most popular songs, and he brought out his trumpet to close the night with a romantic solo. Though it had been a while since I listened to Cuco’s music, I’m grateful to have been able to finally see him live. Reminiscing on the fond memories of youth through music is always a pleasant experience, even if I have grown out of the bands that I once loved. Cuco’s performance exceeded my expectations, and while I feel as if his time of mainstream success has expired, his music will always hold a special place in both online and physical spaces.

Kickin’ The Night Off Vista-Style With Vista Kicks

Last Friday, February 10th, I had the pleasure of seeing Vista Kicks open for Southern sister-act Larkin Poe in one of their last shows ever as a band. Hailing from the small town of Roseville, Vista Kicks brings a tangy flavor to indie rock, and the contrast between their California melodies and Larkin Poe’s Southern charm blended perfectly for a great performance at the House of Blues.

Vista Kicks came out with their first EP Chasing Waves in 2016, and have since released three studio albums, their most popular being Twenty Something Nightmare, released in 2018. They have also produced a range of dynamic singles like “If I Didn’t Have You” and “Make It Real.” At the end of this month Vista Kicks is projected to release their final studio album with Hail Maries, All Hail Vista Maries. Hail Maries recently joined Vista Kicks on tour during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it was definitely the right choice. The two bands together have put their own spin on modern rock by combining elements of blues and soul to refine their sound and make it unique.

Vista Kicks by Sofia Dell’Aquila

Vista Kicks took the stage at 8:00 with an explosion of romantic lyrics and structured basslines. With smiles on their faces, they performed hits like “Mona Lisa” and “Superstitions” that got people of all ages dancing. Despite being the opening act, loyal fans littered the crowd and cheered on every word, and lead singer Derek Thomas frequently called out to see who was a true V.K. fan. All eyes were on tambourine chanteuse Victoria Wymer of Hail Maries, who provided grounding vocal harmony along with her sister Makayla on guitar. Their presence on stage gave the band a 70s-esque rock n’ roll energy, reminiscent of that of pioneering psychedelic groups like the Peanut Butter Conspiracy.

Though they had a short opening set, Vista Kicks surely left a lasting impression to all in the crowd. To celebrate the upcoming release of their new album, Vista Kicks gave fans a sneak peek into what they’d be hearing by playing a new song titled “Better.” At the end of the night, they held a poll for the audience, giving them the choice between two of their most popular hits: “Twenty Something Nightmare” or “Marceline.” Diehard fans of the band roared for both, but “Marceline” prevailed, and the band jumped right in with excitement.

Vista Kicks’ final show is scheduled for February 18th in Los Angeles, though fans remain hopeful that they will make a return to the music industry in the future. It’s a shame that their run as a band is coming to an end, but their music will continue to be appreciated by fans and new listeners alike. 

Soakin’ Up Sun Room

On February 3rd, Sun Room performed their biggest headline show yet, the SOMA mainstage. The night started off with an electric opener, The Grinns, a band that also originates from Southern California, who evoked crowd surfing and mosh pits within the first song. The Grinns played a number of their own originals, gaining many new fans with each passing song. A crowd favorite was “Why Do You Lie?” in which the lead singer of the band had to ask the crowd to “back up” halfway through the song because everyone wanted to be as close to the band as possible. This of course was followed by Jackson Jarret on the guitar telling the crowd to come closer. Before introducing Sun Room to the stage, they announced their last song, a cover of ‘Someday’ by The Strokes.

The band entered the stage, each with their own classy suit and tie. The band started off their night with one of their most popular songs: Fun, which created a constant battle between security instructing the audience to not crowd surf and Sun Room’s unstoppable (crowd) surf rock. The band, whose hometown is here in San Diego, begins each of their songs with a story or motivation for writing each of their songs, and given that they live minutes away from the venue, creates an element as if they are a lifelong friend telling you about their adventures around San Diego.

 Lead vocalist Luke Asgian introduced his fellow bandmates, Ashton Minnich on guitar,  Gibson Anderson on the drums, and Max Pinamonti, apparently also known as the “Italian Stallion,” on the bass. Luke also introduced a number of family and friends who came to experience the show, after every person was introduced the crowd would cheer and raise them in the air as if it were a movie scene.

Every song was performed with a smile. The band finally announced their last song, the single that was released the day of the concert, ‘Kaden’s Van,’ a song about a van belonging to a close friend of the band who was actually in attendance at the concert. However, when the song ended, the crowd refused to leave. “One more song” echoed through the walls of the venue, which were taken over by screams and cheers when the

 band reappeared on stage. They finished their night with an encore of two more songs: ‘Red Dress’ and ‘Cadillac,’ another single that was released earlier this year. The band has recently announced that they are releasing an upcoming EP titled “Outta Their Minds,” exciting fans who are ready for more happy, sunny tunes about friendship and surfing.