On February 28th, 2020, Bay Area natives, The Purple Ones, amplified the stage at Music Box . Their Insatiable Tribute to Prince served us nostalgia and a night to remember.
While browsing for upcoming concerts in and near San Diego, I came across The Purple Ones. They are a Prince cover band based in Oakland, California. Since I never got the chance to see Prince live and he is near and dear to my heart I was excited to go. Music Box was bigger than I thought it would be, with 3 stories for viewing. After scoping out the venue, my friend and I decided to go to the main floor, and we were pretty close to the stage.
The crowd was a mix of couples, groups of friends, and obvious Prince fans. Many people were wearing purple or sparkly garments such as hats and bold jackets. After looking around, my friend said we were possibly the youngest people in the crowd.
Our openers started right at 9 o’clock. They were a group called The Red Cars, which was a The Cars cover band. They started there set and had a lot of energy, however if you do not listen to The Cars (like most of us in the crowd), you were just politely swaying to the music. Their set felt as if we were in a 80s rom-com and suddenly a song came on that majority of us knew, Just What I Needed. The Red Cars finished their set, which was nice to end on a more popular song leaving the crowd more animated.
Before The Purples Ones graced the stage, DJ Spooky Calavera greeted us and proceeded to hype up the crowd by playing high energy music and a few Prince classics.
Around 10:10 PM, The Purple Ones dramatically took the stage with an intro song of their own. The band was composed of two lead vocalists, a full horn section, keyboard, and guitar/bass. The saxophone, trombone, and trumpets gave the concert a unique sound that stole the show. They started their set with a few older Prince songs. The two lead vocalist definitely did their part to get the crowd dancing and singing. They performed classics like “Sign “O” the Times” and “Little Red Corvette”.
Although the crowd was already pumped, their rendition of “I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man” got the crowd singing and clapping. They maintained that energy and during an instrumental solo the two vocalist snuck away to the back and the band finished the song. The next song explained why the two snuck away in flirty way.
The female vocalist came off the stage to perform “Nasty Girl” which is actually by Vanity 6 (a female group that Prince put together). That song definitely got the ladies jumping and screaming the lyrics.
As the night came to a close, The Purple Ones ended with one of my favorites, “I Wanna Be Your Lover.” This song is known to have a long section of instrumentals, and this is where the band introduced themselves. They thanked the crowd, shared that it was their first time in San Diego, and stated that they would not be where they are without Prince. On that note, they closed out the show.
This was definitely a new experience, but the band exceeded my expectations and it made me wish I had the chance to see Prince live.
Denmark-based artist Soleima played an unforgettable performance at Music Box on Tuesday, February 25 to a sold out crowd.
I had the opportunity to head into the venue before the show and got to talk to Sarah, the singer of Soleima, about her music and what is coming up for her this year. Before the interview, I watched the soundcheck in an empty Music Box. This was like my own personal Soleima show, and it was such a cool experience. I got to hear two songs that she would later perform live.
What got you into creating music?
So I actually always have been around music. My family did music and I went to this music kind of high school. In this high school, some kids and I started a band together. It was a 7-piece hip hop band, actually. We must have been around 13 or something; it was me and 6 boys. In the beginning, obviously, it was for fun, but then we actually got a label deal in Denmark. We started doing it a bit, like not professionally, we never lifted from it. We earned money on it and we toured a lot in Denmark. So that was how I started to see it as just a bit more than a hobby. Then after that, I did a lot of other things. I have a bachelor in Anthropology and I did that for a while. Then, I was writing songs together with my friend actually. We wanted to be top liners, we wanted to write songs for others. One day, I realized that I was sitting with these songs and I really didn’t want to give them away. So that is when this project started.
What were your goals and ambitions for your music when you first started?
I think because it started out this way, I was just pretty, I don’t know surprised. I don’t know if that is the right word. I was pretty grateful that something good happened because it kind of came out of the blue. Or at least, that I was supposed to be an artist on my own. So I think in the beginning I was just very grateful and happy that I was able to do it. I guess the more you do it, the more your ambitions and your dreams around it grow. The biggest dream for me is to make the music, first of all, that I want to make, and not make something that people are trying to make me do. For people to hear it, to be able to come here and play 20 concerts in your country, and show my music to everyone. That is definitely my goal and my dream.
How has your music evolved since you first started?
I think, especially on this album that comes out in March, it’s my first full length album, I think that it has an aggressiveness to it that my previous writing has not had in it. I think it is very much about daring to be a bit more honest and maybe also showing some parts of my emotional life that maybe aren’t that flattering always. I haven’t really been daring to do that much earlier. So that is something I am very proud of on this album that I really want to keep working on, and keep being brave that way. It is also something that makes it more nerve wracking to show it to people because of that honesty.
The song and music video for Roses came out about a month ago now, so what went into that song and video?
So that song is actually very much like a manifestation of exactly what I just said. I think I was at a place in my life where I had just signed a deal here in the states. I guess I was just thinking and worrying a bit too much about what people wanted me to make, or what they expected of me. Good songs don’t come from that. The song is a realization of that. It’s about setting boundaries and being able to say no and being able to reclaim your own creativity. It very much has this aggressiveness that I was just talking to you about. In the song, I am kind of singing to someone saying, “Do you think you could change me?”, a “what the fuck?” kind of thing. For me at least, it’s more than a song for someone else, it’s a song for myself being like, hey, people around you are always going to try to affect you, especially in a creative field. It has to be your job to be like, this is my space, this is my art. It’s going to be this way or it’s not going to be. In that way, it has kind of an almost therapeutic effect writing that song on me. It is an important song for me to write.
What is the most meaningful song you’ve created?
That’s a hard one. I think that always changes a bit because right now Roses is so important to me. It had a big meaning for me, it actually affected my life. Sometimes you feel that way with a song, sometimes it will change and you will write another one that is exactly about what you are going through at that moment. I recently wrote a song for my mom, and that means a lot to me. It is my first time writing that directly to someone from my family. That was pretty wild for me.
Who would you consider your musical inspirations?
I have always listened to a lot of different music. Growing up I listened a lot to hip hop, especially older stuff like old school, like Pharcyde and Wu-Tang, and all of that stuff. We listened a lot to old R&B, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, all of that. Later on after listening to more pop stuff, right now I am listening a lot from a girl called Kali Uchis, it is super good. I see my music as very much a hybrid, it is a merge of a lot of different things. In the beginning when I started writing, I saw that as a disadvantage. It is so popular to be very conceptual and to have these very clean concepts around your art. I tried to do that, or I wanted to be more like that. I’m not that way. My music is very much a merge of a lot of things. I am seeing it more as a quality and I am really trying to embrace it and own it.
How would you describe your sound?
That’s hard. One producer I work a lot with in Denmark, he once called it Garage Pop. I imagine me sitting there in my garage like hitting pots and pans and stuff. I thought it was such a fun description, avoiding to put it in a label. Especially because it is such a hybrid, Garage Pop sounds so cool.
What is next for you and what do you want to accomplish in this upcoming year?
Releasing an album is such a big thing for me. I think in these single days, it is such a special thing to be able to release an album from a major label, to wanting to work a full album. A lot of songs, there isn’t singles, and would never have a life as a single. I think for me as an artist, that format is what I enjoy most, listening to them, and it’s what I want to make. It is a big thing for me, definitely. And then, I want to play a lot more. This has been my first time playing so many shows in a row. Just, both for me and my band to evolve is amazing. And to be so close to people with the music has been such a great experience. I think the music comes to life, and gets a whole new life in the meeting with someone who has never heard it before. That has been a big adventure. That is definitely one of my two pillars this year, to play as much as possible and to really focus on giving this album a good life.
I got to spend the first three songs in the photo pit, which was an amazing experience. The first two songs, she spent jamming out, running all over the stage, always engaging the crowd. For the third song, she was behind the piano. She talked about how it was an experimental song that she was testing out. This song was incredible. It had the crowd going crazy. It merged all these different genres that we talked about in the interview. It was not like anything that I have ever heard before.
Once I left the photo pit, I joined everyone else in the crowd. She performed the song Roses, which is my favorite song of hers. Everyone in the crowd was either dancing, had their hands up in the air, and there were some people singing along. You could really tell how much San Diego loves what Soleima is doing with her music. She kept interacting with the crowd, thanking everyone for being there, and talking about how crazy it is that she is playing in the United States. San Diego was the last date on the U.S. tour, after 30 days and 21 shows. Even though it was the end of tour, Soleima was still filled with so much energy and passion.
Soleima’s sound is so different than what other music is out there today. If you have never listened to her, this is your sign to do so.
San Diego is home to some great venues like The Observatory and Soma, so it’s not a surprise that there are some great upcoming shows in 2020.
First, The Observatory in North Park, my personal favorite, holds 1,100 people, so it’s a pretty intimate experience. Here’s who’s on the schedule so far:
Hippie Sabotage: February 27th
Dr. Dog: February 28th
Olivia O’Brien: February 29th
Grouplove: March 23rd
Third Eye Blind: March 16th
COIN: April 3rd
Lovelytheband: May 16th
Airborne Toxic Event: July 1st
Next, Music Box in downtown San Diego. This venue holds 700 people, which creates an even more intimate experience than the Observatory. Here’s who’s on the schedule so far:
Drama: February 27th
Marc E. Bassy: March 17th
Goody Grace: May 14th
Nombe: June 5th
Peach Pit: June 17th
House Of Blues is also located downtown. The main room holds up to 1000 people, and the Voodoo Room holds 300 people, with a very cozy setting. Here’s who’s on the schedule so far:
Sleeping With Sirens: April 24th
Slenderbodies: May 20th
Azizi Gibson: May 22nd
Cub Sport: May 30th
Next up is Soma, located in the Midway neighborhood, near the San Diego Sports Arena. It holds up to 2,700 people, and they’ve got some great shows coming this year! Here’s who’s on the schedule so far:
SOBXRBE: February 29th
Nghtmre: March 5th
The Growlers: March 6th
Hockey Dad: April 4th
Yeek: April 10th
TV Girl: April 24th
Kaytranada: April 28th
LP: May 7th
Foals: May 19th
One of the bigger venues in San Diego is Pechanga Arena which holds up to 14,800 people. Due to its large capacity, some huge names are coming this year. Here’s who’s on the schedule so far:
Blake Shelton: March 6th
Tame Impala: March 9th
Celine Dion: March 31st
Justin Bieber, Kehlani, Jaden Smith: May 26th
Camila Cabello: August 11th
The Lumineers: August 25th
Harry Styles: August 30th
Next up, Petco Park in downtown San Diego, home of the San Diego Padres. This venue can hold up to 42,000 people! Here’s who’s on the schedule so far:
M3F Fest: Bon Iver, Rufus Du Sol, Stick Figure, The Growlers, LANY, Local Natives, San Holo, and more! March 6-8
Green day, Fall Out Boy, Wheezer, The Interrupters: July 24th
KAABOO: Lineup to be announced soon. Last year it included artists such as Kings of Leon, Dave Matthews Band, Mumford and Sons, Duran Duran, The Black Eyed Peas, Onerepublic, Mark Ronson, Sublime w/Rome, Silversun Pickups and more: September 18-20
Lastly, Cal Coast Credit Union Open Air Theatre, located right in the heart of San Diego State! It can hold up to 4,600 people. And if you can’t afford to go, you can always stand outside the gates and listen 🙂 Here’s who’s on the schedule so far:
Robin Skinner, better known as Cavetown, released his breakout album, Lemon Boy, in 2018. On Tuesday, October 22, he played an emotionally evocative set at the Music Box.
Opening with “Hug All Ur Friends,” Cavetown exhibited a playfully nervous demeanor, similar to what is exhibited on his YouTube channel and across his collection of music videos. His passionate fanbase eats it up. Between each song, people exclaimed their love and admiration for the singer, with some even proclaiming, “You’re precious!” His response to this remark was simply, “Thanks friends!”. Friends is an accurate attribution to this devoted group of fans. The energy of the show was intimate but still larger than life.
Videos of Skinner’s hairless cat, Fig, looped on the television screen to his right for the duration of his show, which he endearingly explained early in the set. Not to mention, the bumper music played between the opening and headlining sets was entirely from Spongebob Squarepants.
I found that the concert brought out an innate sense of nostalgia within me. Cavetown’s music has always held a special place in my heart, as it details the struggles of introversion in a whimsical, digestible manner. At the midpoint of the set, the audience was treated to Skinner’s most popular track, “This Is Home.” The live version of the song well exercises live instrumentation, without relying much (if at all) on the prerecorded track. As someone with a special connection to the song, I can surely say that the image of flashlights in the air as the words “I’ll cut my hair to make you stare” filled the room is not one that I will soon forget.
San Diego was lucky enough to be treated to some unreleased music as well! “Things That Make It Warm,” which may be available by the time this post goes live, is a warm, acoustic song that Skinner described as being “about some birds building a nest together.” It is yet another instance of the singer’s deceptive songwriting, having a message far deeper than its “manifest content” if you will.
After closing his set with “Boys Will Be Bugs,” Cavetown was cheered back to the stage, playing “Fool” as his encore. With live drums and an electrifying guitar solo, the song was a satisfying conclusion to a fantastic experience. If the chance presents itself, be sure to catch Cavetown on tour in the coming months.