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