Phun in Philadelphia

I underrated Philadelphia as a kid. I decided it was old, small and dull. It wasn’t a “real” city (AKA not New York). However, over the last few years, I have really grown to love Philly and visit every chance I get. I made it to the City of Brotherly Love twice in one week over winter break and further solidified my appreciation for the city.

Firstly, I made a very last minute trip to the The Academy of Music to see Les Miserables with my grandparents, who were kind enough to offer me a ticket when they saw that there were some available. The showing was part of Kimmel Center’s and The Shubert Organization’s Broadway Philadelphia 2018, which brought a range of Tony and Drama Desk Award-winning shows to the area’s theaters. This was so unexpected because I was invited an hour before my grandparents were leaving to go, plus I did not think I would be lucky enough to see my favorite musical with them again!


Unsurprisingly, the show was powerful, emotional and passionate. Nothing makes my heart tremble like hearing the first few notes from the pit at the beginning of the show. Beforehand, we stopped at an incredible restaurant called Bud and Marilyn’s, which was packed. I enjoyed a scallop dinner and unique take on a pecan pie for dessert.

This last minute adventure turned into one of the most memorable nights of winter break and I am so thankful I got to spend it with my grandparents.

My second trip to Philly was for a concert at The Fillmore. I was at the smaller portion of this venue, The Foundry, over the summer to see a small guitar-singing duo. My familiarity put any worries, which I always get before any live performance, at ease. I was almost as excited to see Milky Chance as I was to see the incredible Tash Sultana, because I discovered and saw this group in Australia as well. This alternative/indie rock band is not Australian, but German.


I met up with my roommate from Australia, Sierra, three hours before the show and to our surprise, there was barely a line. Although I was dreading the long wait, it was a warm day out and time went by far more quickly than I imagined it would. The opening act was a Scottish guitar-playing gent named Lewis Capaldi who was accompanied by a pianist. He told us his specialty is writing sad songs, and said his goal was to make us depressed. Well, he did a great job at that and has a robust voice. Although he was quite enjoyable, I thought the job of the opening act was to pump up the crowd and not bring them down!

Clemens Rehbein and Antonio Greger

Anyway, The Blossom Tour absolutely blew me away. Milky Chance is the type of band that sounds better live than in recordings. Nothing beats the live sound of the band’s funky tunes beating through my veins, filling me with positive energy. I could have danced all night to the leadman Clemens Rehbein’s gritty, powerful vocals, guitarist and harmonist’s Antonio Greger’s impressive solos and percussionist and audio mixer Philipp Dausch’s intense beats all night long. I honestly was blown away by the verve that poured from Rehbein and how passionately the members played. At one point, they miscommunicated and Rehbein had them restart the song. He apologized, and gave the performance he meant to, and I appreciated every second of the vulnerability.

Antonio Greger

It is also safe to say I have never been so attracted to a guy on a harmonica in my life. The foursome (there is a drummer, too) ended with a multiple-song jam session, during which they fluidly swept in and out of intense vocals and hardcore instrument playing. It is so cool to me that a band from Germany can have such success around the world, and they deserve every bit of it.

From Les Mis to Milky Chance, I saw some awe-striking performances. It is mind-boggling to me that I have been to Philly five times since July, but I guess it is not so crazy considering how much fun I have every time I go.


Fall Concert Series 2.0: Lil Wayne

“NO WAY WE ARE GETTING LIL WAYNE AT FALL FEST OMG (insert crying emojis)” is exactly what I tweeted when I found out the rapper was coming to Hofstra for Fall Fest. I was excited because being a two-time Grammy winner and having a mountain of songs under his belt, Wayne was one of the biggest names Hofstra has probably ever hosted for fall fest. I was excited for sure, but I also knew that I could not name a “Wheezy” song or lyric if my life depended on it.

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Photo: Sam Bussell

Fast forward to Fall Fest. I have been working for hours backstage and all of a sudden security kicks everyone out, even my bosses who put the show together. Lil Wayne did not want anyone backstage. Next thing I know, he pulls up in a blacked-out Escalade and literally walks from the car to the stage. The crowd goes wild. I, on the other hand, was wondering what I was doing there because I literally did not know what he was saying or recognize any of the lyrics.

From an objective view, he put on a high-energy performance. He rapped live and seemed excited to be on stage. I was worried he would not even show up, considering a week earlier he cancelled a show because he did not want to undergo any security measures. Wayne shouted out Hofstra and preached to the crowd three things he wanted us to know: first we were nothing without God. Second, he was nothing without us. Third, he was nothing without us. Yes, number two and three are the same. Yes, I used G-rated language, unlike him. He actually performed a bit longer than he was expected to, so that was a nice addition. My favorite part, of course, was when he sang covers and his own part in “The One,” which also features Justin Bieber. Only if Justin was actually there…

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Photo: Trent Campbell

The reaction from the crowd was pretty mixed. I saw people bouncing to the beats and having the time of their lives, but I also noticed other people awkwardly going along with Wheezy. I talked to some people afterwards, and the feedback I received from students matched what I saw in the mosh pit.

Hofstra sophomore Kyle Byrne said, “Wheezy is an amazing performer. I liked when he sang throwback songs, too, that I didn’t know.”

On the other hand, Julia Barry, a junior, noted, “The performance was less than subpar.”

I can confidently say that if you know his music, it is a much better concert to attend. My overall reaction is that he put on a better show than I expected, but he is not someone I would purposely see live.

Fall Concert Series 2.0: Bruno Mars

Bruno Mars was dripping in Finesse as he opened his 24K Magic World Tour at The Nassau Coliseum in Long Island with his song “Finesse.”

Outside the newly renovated Nassau Coliseum

I’ll have to say, I was surprised when he did not open the show with “24 K Magic,” the first song on his 24K Magic album and, obviously, the name of his tour. That is exactly why I loved the show: Bruno does not do what is expected, instead he allows his creativity to flourish and leaves us feeling refreshed after every song.

Bruno’s funky style attracts people of all ages and from all different backgrounds, which was highly evident as I skimmed the crowd: there was a young kid behind me and a group of racially different older ladies dancing up a storm in the section over from me. The ability for Bruno’s artistry to bring so many different types of people under one roof to celebrate him and his music is extraordinary.

Bruno is the epitome of what a talented musician is. The downfall for many pop artists that I notice is their inability to focus on their vocals during a live performance because they are too focused on dancing and running around the stage. However, Bruno makes his moves and powerful singing look as if he could do both in his sleep (he probably can).


Another thing I appreciate about Bruno is that he stays true to his band, The Hooligans. In matching baseball-style shirts, they all animatedly moved about the stage, never missing a step or a note on their guitars and horns. I enjoy how much Bruno seems to appreciate his band with how involved they are in the performance, but still giving them a break during an extended version of “Just the Way You Are.”

The great thing about an artist like Bruno Mars is that he has so many songs that the concert ends up being a perfect mix of old and new. About the first two thirds of the concert consisted of his 24K Magic songs, during which he strutted his stuff on the color-blocked stage to songs such as “Straight Up and Down” and “Chunky.” Bruno’s goofy personality shined through when he and The Hooligans sat down and posed for the crowd to take photos and post them on Instagram. The last third of the show consisted of some of his biggest hits, including “Grenade,” and “Marry You,” which is my personal favorite. Bruno almost had me in tears during his pianist-accompanied “Just the Way You Are” with his soothing, yet strong voice and emotion pouring from his lips.

Bruno packed the show with a whopping 16 songs, with his encore consisting of “Locked Out of Heaven” and “Uptown Funk.” Between the strobe lights and booming indoor fireworks, the audience could never get bored. I am certain, though, that even if it was just a huge stage and Bruno with his guitar and microphone, it would be an equally thrilling show.


Oz: My First Music Festival

Australia’s hot new music is broadcasted on Triple J radio station, which is filled with different sounds—incredible tunes—that I never heard until I moved here. I am so fortunate that I was able to attend my first music festival partly sponsored by Triple J and see some of my new discoveries in the land down under.

Getting to Groovin’ the Moo was not an easy process. I was supposed to attend with an acquaintance I met, and we even paid for an Airbnb. Unfortunately, he cancelled, I lost my accommodation money, and I was stuck with two tickets. However, I very quickly sorted the situation out because my roommate, Seirra, was more than happy to purchase the ticket and we bought bus vouchers, which were charted by Groovin’ the Moo. Once we got there, all the issues I had melted away and I experienced one of the best and longest days of my life.

In front of the Cattleyard/Triple J stages

Upon arrival, all I could say was “Wow,” as I saw the main stage and another area covered in a giant tent which reminded me of the circus appear before my eager eyes. There were four stages at Groovin’ the Moo (Cattleyard/Triple J, Moolin Rouge (the circus-like structure), Mootown and Silent Disco), the Cattleyard/Triple J stages being the largest. These stages were on one huge, main platform, only being separated by a divider so that acts can perform one after another on alternate sides, which worked out beautifully.

Sierra’s and my day began with some incredible food truck munchies: I bought a vegan doughnut and Sierra got some tasty fries. I did not expect there to be a vast array of food trucks at the festival, and it really pleased me when I realized I would not be eating overpriced, run-of-the-mill venue food.


After our delicious treats, we headed to Moolin Rouge stage to await our first favorite Performer, Amy Shark. Amy shot to fame with her song “Adore You,” which rose to the number two spot on he Triple J Hottest 100 Chart in 2016. Luckily, we arrived at the tent at the right time, because we were front row for her performance! She was so talented and sounded completely the same in person as she did on recording.

Amy Shark

Our luck grew when we were able to meet her and receive her autograph at the artist signing table. She told me she liked my shirt and was such a pleasant person to meet. She is heading to America soon for a small tour and I am so excited for her!

Amy Shark and I

After this meeting, Sierra and I moved over to the main stage almost three hours before our next two favorite artists, Tash Sultana and Milky Chance. We were again extremely lucky that we arrived when we did, because after the fist performer we saw at the stage, the crowds did not dwindle and steadily grew. Before we knew it, we were in the second row of a wild mosh pit. If I have any advice for people attending general admission shows, it is to not enter the main crowd if you cannot handle being pushed, shoved and touched by random people. It is not fun. The only reason I survived the hours of waiting was due to the fact that two people in front of Sierra left the crowd before it got too packed and I shoved her onto the barricade. That’s right—we found ourselves front row again for our two favorite performers!

Tash Sultana


The hours of standing and alternately watching people on the stage in front of us and musicians on the other side of the stage via giant screen was worth it. After what seemed like forever, we were enveloped by the sweet music of Tash Sultana. Tash is a singer, songwriter and looping artist from Melbourne. A looper is a tool that allows one to record herself singing or playing an instrument multiple times and layer the recordings together. Man, does this girl know how to jam! She does not even need to sing; I could listen to her on the looper working her magic all day long. When she performs, it’s like all my worries fade away and it is just me captivated by her beautiful music. Tash is by far one of my favorite musicians I have ever seen live, and that says a lot because I have seen a fair share of artists.

Milky Chance

Luckily, our final favorite performer played on the same stage as Tash one act later. Milky Chance is a German electronic/alternative/folk group whose single “Stolen Dance” lead the men to the number one spot on music charts in several countries in 2013.  Seeing Milky Chance in person is even better than hearing the band’s recorded music. The lead singer’s on-stage presence was so much more animated than any video I had seen of him. I also did not expect his adorable German accent to draw me in so much. Between Tash and Milky, I was in music heaven.

The Wombats

The festival ended with Sierra and I shoving our way out of the mosh pit to find some food. After we finally sat down in the barely lit grass, we returned to the Triple J stage to watch The Wombats, another notable and pretty famous band, and back to Moolin Rouge, to see Dillon Francis, an American DJ.

Sierra and I got back to Perth city around 12:30 at night and had probably the best idea that day, which was to take an Uber home. I cannot believe I experienced my first music festival and that the experience was as incredible as it was. This without a doubt will be one of my favorite shows I have ever witnessed.

Oz: Purpose World Tour

Monday, March 6 may not see like that important of a date to most, but I had been looking forward to it for months. It is the day I saw Justin Bieber on his Purpose World Tour at NIB Stadium in Perth, Australia.

As soon as I found out he would be in Perth when I was, I knew I was getting tickets. The only uncertainty I had was if I would be going alone or not. Luckily, Jordan is a huge fan, and Brian wanted to see the special guest, DJ Martin Garrix, so I had two friends to share the experience with.

The opening act, Sheppard, is an indie pop band formed in 2009. The leads are both super talented and I thought to myself I would have to check them out. Then, they played their last song, “Geronimo,” and I realized I had heard it before. I became super excited I got to see a fairly popular band and hear a song I already knew.



The next act was Martin Garrix, who I almost saw in Ibiza. He played an hour long set, weaving in and out of remixed songs and beats set to vivid graphics and tricked-out light and fire effects. He ended with his new song “In the Name of Love.” I enjoyed his music, but one can only listen to a DJ for so long. I was ready for The Biebs.

Martin Garrix

The lights went off. The screen came on. A video came on the screens with Justin’s silhouette teasing the audience. About a minute later, the one, the only Justin Bieber rose from the stage in a clear box, which we wrote “Mark my words” on, which was his opening song. This was it. He was finally here. Someone I have supported for about ten years was right in front of me.

Justin Bieber

To make it short, his whole performance was absolutely marvelous. This was my seventh time seeing him, and I can confidently say this was his best performance yet. For a while, he was going through a rough patch in life, and seemed like he was just moving through the motions of touring. However, this time around, he was joking, smiling and talking to us with meaning. I had never been more proud of him and thankful to be in his presence.

My favorite photo from the show

On top of the spectacular show, my seats were super close to the stage, about 25 yards away from him, so that was just fantastic. He wore Adidas soccer pants the whole time and only changed his top three times, which is a smaller amount than usual. He thanked Australia for having him back, and I thanked him for being there.


Jordan, Brian and I had such a great time. I think Brian even turned into a bit of a Bieber fan, even though he doesn’t want to admit it. I can’t wait to see Justin back in the states!


Fall Concert Series: Alessia Cara

The outside of Orpheum Theatre

I drove four hours through a rainy night to see a pop concert, and it was well worth it.

I wanted to see Alessia Cara in concert as soon as I heard her song, “Here.” I totally related to her experience in the song: being at a party, but wishing she were somewhere else spending quality time with friends. I also fell in love with her song, “Wild Things,” which I used in my short video from Costa Rica. When I saw that she was embarking on her own tour after she finished opening for Coldplay, I knew I had to make it work. I could not make it to her show in NYC, so my other option was to travel to Boston. The show was at the Orpheum Theater, which is a small theater in which any type of show can be performed. I have never been to that small of a venue, and I loved its intimacy and less mainstream vibe.

Alessia Cara performing

Alessia, first of all, is a super talented live performer. She played guitar and piano during her show and teased on a drum. She brought so much energy to her show, the audience couldn’t help but smile and sing along with her. It was an incredibly genuine performance. I also appreciated her positive words of encouragement and self-love she offered her fans throughout the show.

I had no idea who was opening for Alessia and I was shocked to find out she had two openers: Ruth B. and Nathan Sykes. I knew of Nathan Sykes from his boy band days with British group The Wanted. I never paid much attention to him—until now that is. Nathan’s voice, which is much deeper than I expected, is beautiful and passionate. My favorite part of the night was when Nathan came out on stage to sing with Alessia. It was pure magic. Ruth B., famous for her song, “Peter Pan,” gave a superb performance as well.

Additional to when Nathan and Alessia performed together and when Nathan replied to my tweet, my favorite part of the concert was at the end when Alessia took time to grab the hands of all the fans in the front row. This is a small gesture, but it shows how she really wants to connect with her fans and give them a fantastic experience.

My friend Alexa and I at the venue

Alessia seems like such an incredible young woman, as an artist and as a normal girl from Canada. I will definitely support her through her music career and I hope she continues to follow her dreams. Some people said I was crazy for driving to Boston just for a concert, but I would do it all over again for Alessia.