Mild High Club Concert

Mild High Club, an indie band known for their dreamy blend of psychedelia and jazz, performed at San Diego’s Observatory last Wednesday. Most known for their indie pop hits “Homage” and “Tessellation” off of their 2016 album “Skiptracing” , the band is the solo project of songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Alex Brettin who performs with a changing lineup of touring musicians. Alex is an LA based musician from Chicago who has been making music since 2012. The show featured a 6 piece band consisting of a bassist, drummer, rhythm guitarist, and two keyboardists joining Alex on stage. As  a longtime fan of “Skiptracing”, I was excited to see the band and curious to see how their lush music translated to the live stage. To achieve their laidback, atmospheric sound, their music is often extremely layered and rich with a mix of reverb soaked vocals and blends of all sorts of jazz instruments.

Mild High Club has attracted a loyal fanbase that created one of the more laidback yet engaging audiences of any concerts I’ve been to. By the time the opening act had finished his set, the Observatory was at full house capacity. It was an all ages show and the crowd seemed to reflect that with people of varying ages. Their wide appeal of the different genres they take inspiration from brought together a broad mix of people. The smooth psychedelic nature of their music attracted a lot of people, young and old, that I’d classify as having a hippie vibe. It generally wasn’t too pushy of a crowd, and I was able to make it to the front in part thanks to the kindness of a random girl who liked my outfit. The crowd was extremely interactive, and when they performed “Homage” most of the crowd began singing along. 

The entire performance was amazing. The band members had such a unique chemistry that made for a great experience. The mellow psychedelic guitar riffs and groovy bass lines sounded as crisp and clean as they did on their recorded songs that I’ve heard. Alex Brettin’s smooth jazz night-clubesque live vocals were also impressive, as was his incorporation of guitars, tabletop keyboards, and percussion instruments throughout the show. And being heavily jazz influenced, they dedicated large portions of their performance to improvisation. All the instrumentalists got a chance to have their spotlight, and they were all incredibly talented. They also at times provided backing vocals that harmonized with Alex, which sounded beautiful with the acoustics in The Observatory. I was particularly blown away by the two keyboardists’ complex solos and beautiful harmonies. Many of the band was also multi-talented, switching instruments at times.

I discovered new music through tracks of theirs I hadn’t heard. Their 2021 release was just as good, if not better than Skiptracing.  I was also surprised at how much I enjoyed the opener, indie artist J.W. Francis. His laidback energy and fun indie surf rock sound definitely set the stage for the great concert that followed.

Overall, it was a great show and I’m happy I got to go.

“Marvel’s Spider-Man: Beyond Amazing”, a true testament to the legacy this wall-crawler has created

Spider-Man is swinging over from the skyscrapers of New York for a stint at the Comic-Con Museum in Balboa Park.

In July, the park’s newest museum opened the world premiere of the first-ever Spider-Man exclusive exhibit, “Spider-Man: Beyond Amazing – The Exhibition” celebrating 60 years of the character Marvel’s Stan Lee and Steve Ditko first introduced to the world in 1962.

I was lucky enough to preview this incredible exhibit at the San Diego Comic Con Museum and was blown away with how much history they were able to tell in such an interactive way. Not only are you shown the original sketches of famous comic book artists that brought Spider-Man to life, you also get to learn about the situations that led to each new costume and character that has been added to the wall-crawlers 60 years of existence!

There are various screens within the walkthrough exhibit that show the farthest reaches of how impactful the legacy of Spider-Man has become. These include references made by comic book covers, countless outfits that Spider-Man dons in his comic book run, and some of the most iconic moments of Spider-Man’s comic book run. While the webhead is one of the most iconic comic book characters of all time, his comics also led to the introduction of famous comic book heroes, like the Punisher, and even the most shocking moments in Marvel Comics’ history including the death of Peter Parker’s first love interest, Gwen Stacy.


Now it would go without saying that most people know Spider-Man from one of his many outings in television and film. So it goes without saying that this exhibit would touch on the absolute phenomenon of Spider-Man’s silver screen appearances. But rather than just simple mentions that highlight the combined total of over $3.2 billion domestically and $8 billion worldwide gathered by the saga of Spider-Man films from over 20 years, there are actually props from the films at the exhibit!

My excitement could not even come close to being described when I was staring face to face with the tentacle and goggles of Doctor Octopus from the Spider-Man 2 film directed by Sam Raimi back in 2004. Every iteration of Peter Parker has their fair share of representation in the exhibit, with even more versions of the character you may have no idea of getting highlighted as well. 

One of the best aspects of the mythos of Spider-Man is that everyone can be a hero. This sentiment is reflected throughout the experience and you can find the exact point in Spidey’s history that the title of Spider-Man explodes into so many unique and inspiring characters. There is so much representation in comic books for everyone to find a character to see themselves in, but Spider-Man may be the only character where you can find a version of the wall-crawler that you can see yourself in. Even a cartoon pig.

I could continue to tell you about all the amazing Spider-Man paraphernalia that is sprinkled throughout the exhibit, but some things are best left as surprises to see in person when you can get to the Comic-Con Museum and experience this beyond amazing exhibit (pun fully intended) yourself.

If you are worried about missing your chance to see “Marvel’s Spider-Man: Beyond Amazing – The Exhibition”, don’t be. This exhibit will be at Balboa Park until January 3rd, 2023. So whenever you find time to swing your way to the Comic Con Museum, enjoy this incredible examination of the spanning history of Spider-Man and the exciting future he holds for the next 60 years to come!

Concert Review: Tai Verdes

Photo Credits: Faren Holland

Tai Verdes performed on the main stage of San Diego’s House of Blues on 4/20

Tai Verdes got his start on Tik Tok with his song “Stuck In The Middle” which quickly became a viral hit. He has also debuted songs such as  “A-O-K,” “Sheesh!,” and “DRUGS,” which have all seen success on Tik Tok and even made their way over to mainstream radio. With Tai’s newfound stardom, he has been able to turn his Tik Tok hobby into a music career and was able to quit his job at Verizon Wireless.

Tai Verdes had a fantastic set that had fans dancing and singing to every song. When looking into the crowd, it was very obvious that Tai has many dedicated fans. It is quite rare for an artist who starts on Tik Tok to have a big and dedicated fanbase outside of social media, but it appears that Tai Verdes was able to break that barrier. 

Tai Verdes, photo credits: Faren Holland

His music style is very happy and positive. He even took time during his set to speak to the audience and encourage everyone to follow their dreams, just like he did. I have never felt so uplifted by an artist; it was like a concert and a motivational speech all in one. 

Tai Verdes brought his own band with him which consisted of a bass player, guitar player, and drummer. They did a great job performing and interacting with each other. The energy between Tai and the band was contagious and just watching them have fun up on stage made me have an even better time in the audience. At one point during the set, Tai even jumped down into the audience and walked around while singing.

Tai Verdes, photo credits: Faren Holland

Tai Verdes has a song called “DRUGS” which is about doing drugs to “change his mind up,” as quoted from the lyrics. Since the show was on 4/20, obviously, this song was a big hit. It was such a crowd-pleaser during the main set that when the crowd was chanting for an encore, Tai and his band performed “DRUGS” again and it was just as big a hit. He even lit up a blunt and passed it around the stage with his band to celebrate.

Overall this concert was very good and entertaining. Tai Verdes’ ultra-positive personality and music paired with the crowd’s energy made for a very enjoyable night. I would highly recommend going to see Tai Verdes live. Whether you’re a superfan or just know a few songs, it will be a great time.

Written by: Faren Holland

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