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

JAPANESE BREAKFAST: Live at The Observatory in North Park

Oct. 4, 2021

The Opening Act: Luna Li 

On Monday I attended The Observatory on a rainy night to see Japanese Breakfast. Let me tell you all about it. 

Luna Li, who is from Toronto, was opening and I had never heard of her before. The lead came out on stage with three other bandmates: Hallie Switzer, Char Aragoza, and Braden Sauder.

As Luna Li started playing, I was instantly enchanted with her dreamy-rock sound and angelic voice. I never stopped swaying and grooving to her heavenly sound. Luna was also great on stage, she truly is a garage rock princess, as Mick Magazine calls her. With every song that was played, she did not fail to surprise me. Luna has a diverse skill palette with over 14 years of piano and violin training, and she can also play the harp. Luna whipped out her pretty butterfly guitar and played violin for her song, “Afterglow.” The band meshed so perfectly together, especially with the backup vocals. At one point, she told the crowd to just close their eyes and float away, and I did as she said. Although after a while I did peek to see who else was following orders. My favorite song by them right now has got to be Alone But Not Lonely. 

Hannah Bussiere is the Korean-Canadian artist behind Luna Li. According to Fashion Magazine, Hannah wanted a stage name that she could “step into,” to become her best unapologetic self when performing. She channels divine feminine energy, which is where the name “Luna” comes from. 

The self-proclaimed “moon fairy” expressed how grateful she was to be on tour with Japanese Breakfast because she felt represented by the band, since the lead, Michelle Zauner is Korean as well. 

Now, I am absolutely in love with Hannah Bussiere’s sound and vision. I’m so happy that I got to experience her music live before ever hearing her beautiful music. 

The Main Act: Japanese Breakfast

Not knowing much about the artist, besides her sound, I was eager to see what she’s all about live. As soon as Japanese Breakfast came out they started playing Paprika, an energetic piece which is my favorite song from her new album titled, Jubilee. 

I was blown away and uplifted by her performances. Wow… just wow. I couldn’t stop moving my body and taking it all in, it was quite emotional for me. The night was such a refreshing experience that I haven’t felt since seeing Unknown Mortal Orchestra live a couple of years back. The crowd was so chill and groovy. For the first time, I thought, people don’t have to always be dancing or screaming lyrics in order to gain something from attending a show. 

Japanese Breakfast’s talented lead and visionary, Michelle Zauner, is also a writer and director. I found out that she wrote a memoir about her relationship with her late mother, titled, “Crying in H-Mart.” Zauner is also married to her bandmate Peter Bradley, who she wedded nearly seven years ago, in her parent’s backyard before her mother passed. There was so much love at the show. At one moment, Michelle was introducing a song that she wrote for Peter, then saying that most songs she writes are for him as well. They played so well alongside one another. Aw. 

As usual, the band disappeared into the back and reappeared for an electric encore. What a beautiful night. 

Japanese Breakfast and Luna Li were absolutely breathtaking and incredibly talented. The experience was so elevating and I felt so humbled and full of love at the same time by the end of the night. The Woman That Loves You was my cry song and still remains, along with new pieces that I’ve discovered along the way through that night’s venture. Thank you so much.  

Written by Maya Tomasik