Concert Review: Tai Verdes at the House of Blues

Photo Credits: Katerina Portela

What better way to spend 4/20 than with the positive energy of Tai Verdes? His San Diego show took place at the House of Blues on April 20th, 2022 for his first-ever “HDTV” tour following the release of the debut album “TV.” To say that it was a lively crowd would be an understatement. Something about his music inspires bright colors, which was clearly present in the style among his mostly young fans. The opener was an 18-year-old from Toronto who went by “renforshort,” cooing her music in an airy voice that echoed the likes of Phoebe Bridgers. She was chatty and kept the crowd alive with quips between songs. A memorable one was before her song titled “Moshpit,” which she described as “being about a bad relationship and not at all about a real moshpit because I have crippling social anxiety and wouldn’t last a second in one.” The smooth, indie-pop sound of renforshort coupled with her relatable sense of humor perfectly set the stage for the main act everyone was waiting for, Tai Verdes. 

Before the show, I did some research on Verdes and found his unique story of starting out as an unknown phone salesman dreaming of a career in music, releasing a song on Tiktok that went viral, and getting a jumpstart on his career from competing in (and winning) an MTV dating show. Through all of this, the main thing I learned about Verdes is that he never stops trying, a mantra he said himself at one point between songs— “One thing I’ma tell you guys,” he shouted. “Is never f**king give up!” This relentless spirit was apparent tonight in his performance. 

Tai Verdes stepped on stage a little after 8:00 with a dramatic pause and immediately launched into “Happy Til it Hurts,” a track from his album “TV.” The lyrics described his experience starting at a low point and working his way up with big aspirations. This seemed a fitting start to his show both lyrically and musically as it was passionate and groovy. Verdes made sure to give every song a fun edge and as you might find listening to his discography, most of his music is perfect to sing along to. His recent album TV captures the catchiness and summery feel of poolside pop. He constantly encouraged the crowd to sing along and had an expressive way of delivering every lyric. Verdes also incorporated his talented band, giving them the spotlight to shine and bring the energy to his instrumentals. The bassist I remember especially for bouncing around behind Verdes and absolutely killing the backup vocals. You may have heard Verdes’ viral first single, “Stuck in the Middle,” which starts off with a bouncy riff and the catchy lyrics: “She said, you’re a player aren’t you, and I bet you got hoes.” The bass took on an important role then, leading the way for the song while the crowd screamed along. 

Tai Verdes performing at the House of Blues San Diego
Photo Credits: Katerina Portela

Part of the reason that this show was so enjoyable was because of how fun his music is: every song had the crowd dancing while Verdes himself smiled the entire time. The colors flashed between electric blue, scarlet red, and shades of yellow and orange: vibrancy shone through the entire show. For his two most well-known songs, Tai Verdes went to the crowd and asked an audience member a question, the answer to which would segway into the music. For example, in “Stuck in the Middle,” he actually leaped down and weaved his way to the center of the crowd to ask a young fan, “Hey, do you know what she said to me?” The fan, bursting with excitement, replied “You’re a player aren’t you!” and the song started with a bang. His fresh take on participating with the audience kept everyone engaged and when he stepped off the stage, it didn’t take long before everyone was screaming for more. He returned for a final encore for a song that he had already played, but somehow managed to make it even more energetic, namely because the song was called “Drugs,” and because of the occasion, it makes sense why the audience got so into it. 

Verdes left in a cloud of smoke, shining in sweat from the absolute effort he puts into every song and of course giving one last signature smile. When the show was truly over, I was surprised to find myself out of breath from all the singing and dancing that his music brought out of me. Tai Verdes brought the excitement to San Diego with his colorful and infectious joy during this explosive debut tour, an energy that I’m excited to see more of as his career continues.

Written by: Katerina Portela

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

Concert Review: Soccer Mommy at San Diego’s Music Box

Reviewed and photographed by Maya Tomasik

I had never heard of Soccer Mommy before attending her show at Music Box, here in San Diego. I discovered that I did have a few of her songs saved on my Spotify but, ultimately, her stage name didn’t stick to me before appreciating her live performance. 

Photo Credit: Maya Tomasik

Swiss-born singer-songwriter Sophia (Sophie) Allison, sounded so soft and dreamy on stage. I respect her honest and expressive lyrics, and her transitions between songs were incredibly smooth.

Photo Credit: Maya Tomasik

The band had the whole crowd swaying but, I still felt like something was missing. They sound like a melancholic indie dream, and maybe I’m just not into that type of music anymore. Other than that, I also felt like Sophie could’ve brought a bit more energy to the venue. I didn’t hear much from her and she seemed a bit rigid that night. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the show and Music Box.

Photo Credit: Maya Tomasik

It was my first time attending a show at Music Box and I’m so happy to have spent my night there. It’s a three-story venue with many tables and seating areas. They also have two outdoor areas you can mingle at without having to leave the venue entirely.  I am now in love with this venue and can’t wait to attend more shows there.

Written by: Maya Tomasik