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

Logan Mize at the House Of Blues

Sold Out Saturday Night: Logan Mize rocks the House of Blues Voodoo Room on February 8th, 2020.

I’ll say it, I’m a sucker for country concerts. Maybe it’s the plethora of attractive southern looking men in flannels or the music that reminds me of summer. Regardless, I love to support up and coming artists and when given the opportunity to attend a concert you bet I’ll be front row.

I Aint Gotta Grow Up Tour

This was my first trip to The House of Blues and I was not disappointed. The ambiance, the location, and the acoustics all made this concert such an enjoyable experience. The show took place in the Voodoo Room which was a smaller room located inside the HOB. The size of the room seemed to make this concert seem intimate and personal, which enhanced the experience. With doors opening at seven and the concert beginning at 8:30 you got to know the people standing around you and encouraged socialization.

San Diego Local Stephen Ray opens the show

The opening act Stephen Ray is a San Diego local, and country music artist who has opened for some of the biggest names in country. Names such as Chris Janson, Parmalee, and Cody Johnson. He frequents venues like Tin Roof, and Moonshine Beach so you are likely to run into him preforming at some point if you frequent bars that have live music! Stephen started the show by playing some originals like his most recent single “New Plus One” and by covering John Denver’s “Country Roads” which definitely the crowd singing.

Up Next for Stephen…

I ran into Stephen and his lovely girlfriend Devin after his performance where we chatted about their future move to Nashville, and how great his set was. I’ve already bought tickets for Stephen’s next show downtown at Tin Roof where he will be opening up for Love and Theft on February 22, I am excited to see his career take off!

Logan Mize

Logan Mize has recently found his groove and has gained the attention of country music fans everywhere. Logan has opened for country stars like Lady Antebellum, The Band Perry, Erik Church, and Dierks Bentley. The singer-songwriter from Kansas has been perusing a career in music since 2010 and most recently dropped a new EP From the Vault.

Better Off Gone

Logan closed out the night by taking the crowd on a trip of all of his newest and best hits. Hits like “Better Off Gone” his biggest song to date, although being released in 2017, the song has gained traction on the country radio charts recently and almost everyone at the concert knew the lyrics by heart. I Aint Gotta Grow Up” Logan’s most recent drop ft. Willie Jones and the namesake of the tour is country radios newest find and is the perfect summer jam all about a “good time all night country kind of throwdown.” Mize has a solid stage presence, knows how to command the attention of a crowd, and had everyone singing the night away.

This concert was music to my country-loving ears and made for the perfect Saturday Night. It’s always refreshing to listen to new and upcoming talent and The House of Blues is a perfect place to do just that. Look out for Stephen Ray and Logan Mize, they are doing great things for country music it’s only up from here!

Written by: Vanessa Rock
Photos By: @jennisoncloud9, Devin Dilday

Album Review: Halsey’s Manic

Halsey album manic album cover. Girl with glitter on face.

On January 17, Halsey released her newest album Manic, giving listeners an uncensored look into the artist’s head and heart.

The wait is finally over, Halsey’s new album Manic is here and the singer couldn’t be happier. “The most torturing and beautiful wait of my life has come to an end. Manic is out now,” the singer tweeted on January 16. The wait was definitely worth it as the singer’s last album release was 2017’s Hopeless Fountain Kingdom. Manic gives us an uncensored look into the singer’s head and heart while also learning more about her past relationship, bipolar disorder, and constant struggle with self-doubt and confidence. Before Manic release, fans already had access to half the album with the following released songs “Without Me”, “Graveyard”, “Finally// Beautiful Stranger”, and “Suga’s Interlude”. The rest of the album is where Halsey gets raw and emotional. Manic has some special guests who are important to Halsey who include Dominic Fike, John Mayer (end of track 3AM), Alanis Morissette, and BTS member Suga.

Halsey album manic album cover. Girl with glitter on face.
Taken from Halsey’s Twitter

The album kicks off with “Ashley” her own name, Ashley Frangipane. This song introduces fans to her real identity, Ashley, not Halsey. She reflects on her past as the persona Halsey. We find out that when her character Halsey is no longer here, her musical legacy will remain. Halsey shared with Zane Lowe from Apple Music that “It’s arguably the most Halsey sounding song on the album…It was like a comfortable entry point for people.”

Second, on the list is stripped-back track “Clementine” which was released on the singer’s 25th birthday. The song addresses a romantic interest while discussing some of her mental issues in general. This all turns back to how vulnerable Halsey is in her character.

“Graveyard” is the second single off of manic to be released. This song is part of the album compared to just being a stand-alone single. “Graveyard” discusses being in love with someone who is not in a good place, yet you love them so much and are willing to go to that bad place with them. The song also teaches us that we have to take care of ourselves while still loving someone and not following them to the bad place their in.

“You should be sad” is the last single released and probably the best. This country-influenced track is where Halsey spills out her frustrations with an ex-boyfriend, while also throwing some shade about her ex’s character with lyrics like “No, you’re not half the man you think that you are,” “Cause, you can’t love nothing unless there’s something in it for you,” and “You can’t fill the hole inside of you with money, drugs, and cars.” On twitter, a fan asked Halsey her inspirations for this track (knowing that she is pop/alternative musician.) and she responded with, “the most petty and heartbreaking songs all come from country. I wrote YSBS (you should be sad) on my living room floor on my guitar. Lots of time in Nashville too.” The music video for “You should be sad” has little references to her idols which include Christina Aguilera, Lady GaGa, and Shania Twain.

You should be sad – Music Video *Viewer Discretion Advised*

“Forever…(is a long time)” is the first track of a trio that is meant to be listened in succession. The song starts in major key before switching over to minor. This style choice represents what happens once Halsey gets in her own head. The track showcases what happens when you fall in love and then sabotage because of your own paranoia and insecurities.

“Dominic’s Interlude” features Dominic Fike, the track discusses brotherly love which is why Halsey chose to have Dominic on the track. The interlude itself is a representation of unique relationships. This track is the second of the trio featured on Manic.

“I HATE EVERYBODY” is the final track in the trio. Contrary to the song title, she does not hate everybody all the time. Halsey shared that “’I HATE EVERYBODY’” is about when you’re young, your insecurities can get the best of you.” She also shared that “I shouldn’t be desirable because some rock star you think is cool thinks I’m desirable, no that’s not what this is anymore.” This is the perfect way to close out a trio with a little angst.

In “3am,” the song following “I HATE EVERYBODY,” Halsey chats about the calls you make to friends and lovers in the early morning hours in order to feel love. “3AM” also represents how drinking can seriously affect your mental state while causing you to doubt yourself. The singer tweeted that “After a night out, I came home and was ringing everyone in my contacts cause I was trying to talk to literally ANYONE so I wouldn’t have to sit with my own thoughts.” The Outro to the track is a voicemail from John Mayer which was unexpected but super cool.

“Without Me” – The first single for manic and released from Halsey after her last album, Hopeless Fountain Kingdom. This track was directed towards ex-boyfriend G-Eazy, after being cheated on by the rapper. Halsey shared that “Without Me” is the rawest thing she’s ever made. There is no character with this song, it’s just Ashley. The track is about her life and the relationship the entire world watched under a magnifying glass. Originally, the song was supposed to be a standalone single, however, in September 2019, the singer revealed that it would be number 9 on manic.

Without Me – Music Video *Viewer Discretion Advised*

“Finally // beautiful stranger” – In this slow romantic song, Halsey discusses the first time she met her boyfriend Dom, aka YUNGBLUD. Halsey was the one who asked Dom out and said, “do you want to go and get drinks.” They had never met one another before and just hit it off. This was the first relationship following her break-up with rapper G-Eazy. Halsey wrote this song when they first met, but when the song was officially released, the couple had already broken up.

“Alanis Interlude” feat. Alanis Morissette – This track features the very talented Alanis Morissette, someone with who Halsey looks up to. The interlude is reflective of relationships in her life. Her friend Dom is reflective of “brother love relationships and Alanis represents a sexual and professional empowerment.” For those who do not follow Halsey, in her previous albums, she has made it clear she is bisexual and she wanted to have a song that reflects all of her including her sexuality.

“Killing Boys” – “You are killing people.” “No, I’m killing boys.” Sound familiar? Well, that line is from the 2009 horror film “Jennifer’s Body” and it is a conversation between actresses Meghan Fox and Amanda Seyfried. The actual audio clip from the scene starts off this track. The song is about how a woman should be feeling after a breakup. Unlike the song “you should be sad” which directly talks about her frustration with a certain relationship, this one is broader and can apply to anyone. Ultimately, Halsey is communicating to women everywhere that you should be a strong and independent woman.

“Suga Interlude” – On this bilingual track, which is awesome by the way. Halsey brings on Suga from the K-Pop group BTS. The song is about falling in and out of love and fear of letting go of that relationship. The chorus reinforces this where Halsey says “I wonder what’s in store. If I don’t love it anymore (Hey) stuck between the having it all and giving it up, yeah (hey).”

“More” – This one hit me emotionally, why? Halsey opens up about her health and that she suffers from endometriosis and the three miscarriages, she tweeted on March 25, 2019. Endometriosis causes fertility issues. In More, Halsey states that all of her sufferings has increased her love for her future baby. More is not just another love song, this is a song to a person who has not been created yet, but when they are she wants them to know how much they are loved.

“Still Learning” – We all can relate to this song at one point in our lives. Halsey discusses her struggle to love herself despite the fact she is one of the most successful singers today. A couple of points she emphasizes in the song are troubles with self-esteem and self-love. The chorus of the song says, “But I’m still learning to love myself”. I appreciate this track so much because learning to love yourself is extremely important and this song emphasizes this perfectly.

“929” – The perfect way to close out her album. This song is just Halsey getting all her thoughts out. These thoughts include things about herself, her family, and her fans. At the beginning of the track, she shares something fun and personal about herself. She was born at 9:29 am on 9/29/1994.

You can catch Halsey on tour for the new album in various U.S. cities. Visit her website here to find a city near you, and stream Manic on Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music.

Written By: Mike Stark

Peep This Joint: Mos Def – Black on Both Sides Album Review

October 12, 2019 marked the 20th anniversary of his universally lauded album, Black on Both Sides by legendary rapper Yasiin Bey, better known as Mos Def. 

This project marked his debut as a solo artist after receiving critical acclaim on his collaborative effort with another veteran rapper, Talib Kweli with their full-length LP, Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star that released just a year before this project. 

Released in 1999, Black on Both Sides is a bonafide 90’s rap album that remains a hallmark and defining sound for underground boom-bap hip hop. Despite the vintage production style, Mos Def manages to utilize the sound to create a timeless record that stood the test of time and still bumps even today. 

Especially after the tragic deaths of Tupac and Biggie that nearly closed off the golden age of hip-hop, Black on Both Sides serves as a final hoorah to the definitive era.

Due to the album’s timeless feel despite its sound being centered around boom-bap, the album is universally praised as not only one of the best albums of that era but also of all time. The album stands as an ideal introduction to 90’s boom-bap due to its accessibility and timeless sound.

With passionate and thought-provoking lyrics mixed with an effortless flow dispersed throughout the project, it’s clear to see that Mos utilized the album to restore sociopolitical consciousness into the rap game and bring hip-hop back to its roots/foundation. 

The song, “Mathematics” is a prime example of this which is filled with meticulously-crafted lyrics and effortless delivery. Under a beat laced by legendary producer DJ Premier, the Mighty Mos Def addresses the racist prison industrial complex that particular targets people of color:

“When the average minimum wage is $5.15/

You best believe you’ve got to find a new grind to get cream/ 

The white unemployment rate is nearly more than triple for black/ 

Some front-liners got their gun in your back/ 

Bubbling crack, jewel theft and robbery to combat poverty/ 

And end up in the global jail economy/”

Regardless of the fact that this album came out in ‘99, many of the bars Mos spits are still relevant today. Mos reveals that many social issues that plagued the world then still exist today and time has shown that it has only gotten worse. Further in the same song, he spits about the growing use of government surveillance:

“40% of Americans own a cell phone/

So they can hear everything that you say when you ain’t home/

I guess Michael Jackson was right, you are not alone/”

Besides the overarching effort to spread awareness and enlighten his listeners, Mos does come through with more lighthearted tracks such as “Ms. Fat Booty” where he tells a story of a girl he met at a club who eventually ghosted him. He flexes his story-telling ability and his delivery demonstrates just how vivid of a picture he can paint with his bars. 

Some more standout tracks from the album that you should listen to include “Hip Hop”, “Do It Now” featuring Busta Rhymes, and “UMI Says”. 

As mentioned earlier, this project is flawless from top to bottom and is a shining example of sharp Mos Def’s pen and flow is. With a signature 90’s sound, he manages to create an album that stood the test of time sonically and is still relevant in today’s politically charged environment. 

Go peep this joint!

Rating: 10/10

Written by: Johann Oribello