Category Archives: Photos

Meet and Greets: Cory Monteith was in an indie rock band

cory_monteith_glee_bonnie_dune_the_indie_sdSometimes we come across an artist who is not only beautiful as a person, but also as a musician. And sometimes those artists struggle with various things, including addiction. One of those artists was Cory Monteith: star on Glee, but who I knew as the talented drummer for Bonnie Dune.

I heard of this band many years ago while I was in high school. I knew some of the people who were in the band. Years passed, and I heard of them again, this time with a new drummer, one many people recognized for his vocal and acting skills on television. My friend’s band The Honey Trees was opening up for Bonnie Dune, so I decided to go. After their set it was Bonnie Dune’s turn. I instantly fell in love with the amazing harmonies, the vocals, and the way all the instruments came together so beautifully, you felt yourself plucked out of where you were, out of everything that was going wrong or worrying you, and out in the middle of a story. It was only you and the band. That’s how those artists made you feel, Cory included.

After the show, he came out to sign autographs and take photos. I knew I had to meet him. When it was my turn, I looked at him and I said “You were phenomenal. I know a lot of musicians, I’ve known every drummer this band has had. You were amazing. You played beautifully. I just had to say that you’re a great drummer. ” He looked at me, with genuine eyes and an authentic smile, and said “thank you”. We took our photo then I left.

Years passed, and I heard of him entering rehab for drug and alcohol addiction. I heard a lot of negativity about this and I thought of musicians, artists, actors, and other people who have gone through similar. Imagine yourself going through the pressure of what they deal with. It’s not so easy. Addiction is a disease. There are artists who can push through it such as Russell Brand,  and some that even after trying so hard, just can’t, such as Amy Winehouse, Jimi Hendrix, and Janis Joplin.

Months later, I heard of his passing. Heroin and alcohol is what they said. I am brought back to my good friend, an amazing musician as well, who died from an overdose just months before Cory passed; and it all seems real again. I break down. I think of his band mates, friends, loved ones and family. I break down for a bit and it’s hard.

People talk about the actor and celebrity factor of it all, but others have come to forget he was a musician as well. This was someone whose drumming could calm the most panicked hearts. I cry to think we will never hear it live again. We are just left with his memory, the recordings, and photographs. This amazing musician, gone too soon. This amazing artist, we will always miss.

Addiction is real and it affects millions around the world daily. If you or anyone you know is affected by this, talk to them. Talk to someone. Get help. Music culture is a family, and we are here to help.

By Toni Rivera

Each week, would like to feature your true and personal stories about meeting your favorite musician. Indie bands have some of the most social and outgoing musicians, and many times people have been given the chance to speak with them after shows, take photos, and simply discuss how their music has touched our lives! If you want to share a story about meeting your favorite indie artists, let us know by sending an email to, and it could be featured on the site!

Drug Addiction Help Online. Suicide Prevention Online: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Live Photos: Atmosphere

Hip hop duo Atmosphere wowed audiences in San Diego, proving that these two are still great connoisseurs of tour, with an electric stage presence that keeps fans coming back. Their Kickin’ Up Dust Tour is still underway so make sure you catch them with Slightly Stoopid, but if you still need a little convincing, here are some live photos from Atmosphere’s performance at the Sleep Train Amphitheatre.


Photos by Nicholas Wong.

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The Plastic Revolution: It’s not Rock ‘n Roll without a little blood!

What do you get when you mix the heavy, shredding energy of The Plastic Revolution and a burned out guitar pick? A very excited crowd and one bloody guitarist! Check out these photos I snapped of TPR live at the Soda Bar, where they opened up for alt rockers The Material.

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Imagine Dragons, appropriate band name is appropriate

Check out these photos of Imagine Dragons when they performed at their SOLD OUT San Diego House of Blues show.

With a band name that is oddly appropriate, Imagine Dragons churned out an energy packed show that was almost tribal in nature, backed by a “magical forest” of lights and stage design, which conveniently illuminated different colors to match the mood of each song. It was like being in a Pixar movie about tree spirits who play dance music and occasionally paint with all the colors of the wind. It may be hard to imagine, pun intended, so the photos below will do a much better job of showcasing the brilliance that is Imagine Dragons.

Photos by Christian Rodas, Soul Venture Productions.

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Atlas Genius smoothly navigates the indie radio waves

atlas genius san diego house of blues imagine dragons “Like a Quaker in a strip club, I was enamored with this new discovery and I wanted more.”

Being one who is typically not on the cutting edge of most technological trends, I was relatively late to the Spotify bandwagon. In fact I was well invested and sufficiently pleased with my Pandora account and had no reason to fix something that wasn’t broken—or so I thought. With great hesitancy I relinquished what little virtual privacy I once held to Spotify, but in return I would gain a doorway to a world of musical discover. But instead of yammering on about the majestic musical database, I would rather discuss Atlas Genius, an Australian based indie-pop band whose new album When it Was Now was released last month and whose popularity have gone from 0 to 60 in half a quarter beat—for those of you who can’t add fractions well, that’s really fast.

Taking an atypical approach to music, the foursome focused on building a studio that would facilitate creativity and songwriting years before they ever performed live as Atlas Genius. Brothers Michael and Keith Jeffries carefully designed their workspace exactly the way they wanted not really knowing where it would lead them. After two years of building and playing at local pubs to finance their dream studio, their musical mecca was finally in place where they would write and produce their EP Through the Glass and eventually their full-length debut When it Was Now.

Unsuspecting and unaware of what was to come, when their featured song “Trojans” came up on Spotify, I was hooked like a fat kid in an all-you-can-eat doughnut shop. Their aptly named hit song permeated my psyche much like the Trojan horse did the once thriving Spartan fortress. Hours later I couldn’t help but unconsciously hum the melody, which was quite frustrating considering I didn’t know but a few lyrics. The relatively simplistic song elements were powerful enough to get my toe tapping and my soul dancing. Like a Quaker in a strip club, I was enamored with this new discovery and I wanted more.

Much to the surprise of the guys from down under, “Trojans” was an instant hit. Soon after sharing their catchy tune on sites such as Triple J Unearthed, Sound Cloud and iTunes, the song began attracting attention from labels, publishers, and a barrage of others in the music industry. However, the guys were so wrapped up in their college studies they didn’t bother to check the band email. Fortunately, once they had, Atlas Genius was more focused on music than they ever had been—paving the way to two major tours, a major label contract and a full-length album.

Although When it was Now, which released mid February, is a fun album to listen to, it is anything but revolutionary. Their overall approach to the album falls a bit on the formulaic side and may not speak to the music snob continually boasting about “the band that’s gonna change it all.” That being said, for the guy/gal who loves music that simply sounds good (I know, totally subjective) and is well written (how egocentric is this guy?), Atlas Genius will always be the band that may not be at the top of the list, but will certainly bring the fun.

Their full length album When it Was Now is available now on iTunes and other music retailers.

View Photos of Atlas Genius, live at The House of Blues San Diego on March 18th. Photos by Christian Rodas, Soul Venture Productions.
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GP of the Week: Anatomy of a Boy Band

Before You Exit, performing live in San Diego, CA. Photo by Christian Rodas.

Ah, let me tell you the problem with boy bands. Oh wait, you mean you already know the answer to that? How about instead, I tell you why the ‘age of the adolescents’ isn’t really all that bad. Don’t turn away from this article just yet – there are a lot of facts to learn about the elusive, mysterious, all-male musical machine known as the boy band, and some of these facts might actually surprise you.

For instance, one of the main issues with the typical definitive boy band is that it gives every young male musician under the legal drinking age a bad rep. We’ve always been a bit pretentious as a society when it came to music, especially when artists use their looks or their sex appeal to gain fans. And yet, this is completely acceptable in any other form of entertainment. ‘That Oscar winning actress is totally hot.’ ‘This model has a sexy body.’ ‘Let’s give Lara Croft a huge rack.’ You might need to be a gamer geek like me to get that last reference, but the point still stands – the entertainment industry as a whole has always welcomed and embraced sex appeal…at least, when it refers to women.

Male musicians have always garnered screaming, crying, panty-tossing female fans. But back in the day, those male musicians were playing instruments. Elvis Presley was “reinventing” mainstream rock ‘n roll. The Beatles were expressing their music without suffering creativity. Even 80’s hair metal groups — some of the first true boy bands, if you ask me — were rocking and rolling all night, and partying every day to the riffs of their guitars and the power of their drums. And they all had screaming, crying, no-holds-barred female fans.

That can’t really be said these days. The music industry evolved, and as a result, so did the boy band. But I’m telling you, it’s not all bad. Maybe we’re used to the age of One Directions and Justin Beibers (he counts as a boy band in my book; I think they might actually be cloning him for insurance reasons), and this reluctant acceptance has closed our minds to the idea that yes, boys can play instruments too.

We even want to ignore the typical boy band “formula” once our favorite songs are involved. Recent Grammy winners Fun. pretty much fit all the boy band criteria, and yet for some reason these guys are exempt. Is it because their music is about life instead of about love? I’m really starting to think the main factor is drinking age. And also,  once you put instruments into the mix, there’s something else that appeals to the band’s fans than just their good looks.

Take the indie band of brothers Before You Exit, for instance. The modern day boy band formula is there: attractive young dudes, sentimental pseudo-love songs, high energy performances, and photo shoots reminiscent of the 90’s, minus the 90’s fashion trends. But there’s an extra element of surprise here, and it comes in the form of many, many instruments. This is a group that is okay with being adorable as long as they also get to be amazing, well-versed musicians in the process.

If you think about it, it doesn’t make sense to persecute musicians of any gender simply because they are beautiful. A female singer is less reputable because she’s stunningly hot? A group of guys can’t be taken seriously because they’re well groomed? These kinds of theories only make sense when image is just as important as the music itself.

Here’s the kicker: regardless of what kind of music you listen to, image is always important. Would you listen to your favorite punk band if they wore polo shirts and belonged to a golf club? Would Lady Gaga, who is actually a stunning singer and multi-instrumentalist herself,  garner as many “little monsters” if she didn’t wear suits made of meat? There’s a direct correlation between a musician and his or her image, whether you want to admit it or not. It’s simply up to each individual artist to decide if that image is going to be used for good (such as, The Beatles walking Abby Road), or evil (whatever this is.)

And while I’m not ready to put One Direction on repeat anytime soon — unlike a preteen adolescent girl, I know what makes me beautiful and I’d prefer not to hear it from a boy I can’t legally date–, I would listen to Before You Exit. Maybe I’ll also give latest X Factor finalists Emblem 3 a chance, too. Because there are male musicians all around us who play well, learn their trade, entertain us on stage, and happen to look really great while they’re doing that. I’m not saying they aren’t that media definition of a “boy band”. But I am saying we can at least toss image aside and judge a musician on their abilities, just this once, right?

If you’re still pretty upset with boy bands in general, don’t stone me! Instead, tell me what you think about bands like Before You Exit, Emblem 3, and even pop rockers like Fun. being considered a “boy band”. Comment below with what you think!

Check out these photos of Before You Exit, from their San Diego show at the Epicenter. Photos by Christian Rodas, Soul Venture Productions.

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Get Scared at SOMA, San Diego

The title of this post is almost in time for Halloween. But we’re not asking you for trick or treats just yet. Get Scared is the hard rocking, intense group of guys that melted faces at their SOMA San Diego show on September 15th. If you weren’t there, you can check out these photos and be there in spirit. If you were there, you can still check out these photos and reminisce about all the good times. Either way, it’s candy for your eyes, and you didn’t have to dress up and go door to door to get it!


Photos by Christian Rodas, Soul Venture Productions.

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Behind the Scenes of the Warped Tour Interviews

Yours truly got the chance to interview some amazing bands from Van’s Warped Tour including Taking Back Sunday, Tonight Alive, Every Time I Die, Cali natives G-Eazy and Pierce the Veil, and Austin from Of Mice & Men, among others! The videos will be here soon, but until then, here’s some behind-the-scenes eye candy to drool over. Happy Hump Day!

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Meet and Greets: Slayin’ San Diego

Alexis Krauss of Sleigh Bells at 4th and B, San Diego
Alexis breaks the fourth wall and jumps into the audience.

What’s better than free tickets to see Sleigh Bells live at 4th and B? Getting to canoodle with Alexis and Derek of the band. Oh wait, what’s even better than that? Getting your boob signed by the feisty lead singer. Okay, okay, let me explain the night and subsequent party that was Sleigh Bells.

First of all, the concert gods are on my side. I don’t win anything. I didn’t win the Mega Millions (yes, I bought a ticket.) I don’t even win Bingo. So when I received an email from Sleigh Bells stating that I had won two tickets to their April 3rd show and that my name would be on their guest list, I was fairly convinced that it was some sort of evil April Fool’s Joke.

Just as I started to narrow down the list of people who could have possibly done this and therefore needed to be punished, it dawned on me that yes, this was real. I had actually won something. Everyone gets to win something at least once in their lives, right?

Despite the show being on a Tuesday, I dragged a friend along and headed out to 4th and B, with high hopes and aspirations for how the night would turn out. I’ve seen Sleigh Bells live before, so I had a fairly good idea on what to expect; however, when I saw the band, they were just a freshman in the music world and were opening for a rather large festival. But this night was different, as we all got to share in popping the proverbial cherry on Sleigh Bells’ first ever headlining show in San Diego.

Dubbed a “no-genre” band by some, Sleigh Bells is a mixture of noise-pop riffs over hardcore-influenced drum patterns and booming bass lines that would make any hip-hopper proud (as if to solidify this, they played Biggie Smalls and others while we waited for the band to take the stage.) Their sophomore album Reign of Terror dives more into harmonies and experimental guitar riffs and steps away from some of the bass-heavy dance-ready tones of their debut album, but the songs still scream “get up and move!” Given all of that, and since this wasn’t my first time at the rodeo, I knew that Sleigh Bells can be a bit of a party. If you’re not moving, you’re singing. And if you’re not singing, you’re screaming. And if you’re not screaming, you’re opening a pit in the middle of the crowd. One or all of the above.

The New York based duo has a need to be loud, one that I have experienced and yet it still managed to surprise me on that night. Their stage was simply adorned with about twelve Marshall amps (R.I.P. Jim Marshall), which my friend stated was “a lot of fucking amps.” I noted, “well, they’re obviously for decoration.” Until the first guitar note came booming through the entire venue. Then I had to turn to my friend and yell, “….I think they’re using all the amps!” Despite the intensity of volume, the sound was amazing — though I am biased since I’m kind of deaf. Always bring your earplugs, kiddos. Never the less, Sleigh Bells is a band that likes their music loud, so they’ve definitely managed to perfect the art of getting it that loud and making it sound good at the same time.

There weren’t any pits involved on this Tuesday night (but Alexis did acknowledge the brave souls who attempted to get one going), but there was plenty of movement, including the energetic lead singer working all angles of the stage to make sure even the people in the back were on their feet. I chilled up front stage right, smack dab in front of former Poison the Well guitarist Derek Miller. Wait, did I say chilled? What I really meant was I sang my fangirl lungs out and tried my best not to accidentally trample anyone in the process. Despite being on the opposite side of the stage, Alexis attempted to defy the laws of stage physics and stretch her microphone cord to our side on more than one occasion, prompting a resurgence of energy from virtually everyone directly next to me.

At some point, the energy of the show and the crowd shot upward, due mostly to Alexis’s need to get past the security guys and get into the crowd. After affectionately rubbing her hand on the top of one security member’s bald head — he smiled from ear to ear, in between bobbing his head to the music — Alexis finally made her way to that barrier we all hate at shows, and with a little assistance she jumped it. A crowd surfing Alexis continued to sing into the mic as I’m sure a lot of very happy dudes were placing their hands in spots they never would get to see.

Just as she had made her way back to the stage, a fan from that center crowd handed her a t-shirt, and what does she do with it? Well, she strips off her own shirt in the middle of a song to put the fan’s shirt on, of course. A very brave move, if you ask me; hopefully it was a clean one and not someone’s sweaty seconds. The theme of the night turned to “Let’s dress up Alexis” as me and my friend handed guitarist Derek a San Diego baseball hat. He proudly strutted to center stage and popped it onto their lead singer’s head.

The spontaneity and roll-with-the-punches mood of the band was just as exciting as their music, and the crowd really went crazy for it. Or maybe they were going crazy for Alexis stripping off her shirt. Either way, it was energy that held true after they had left the stage, and a small group of diehards waited patiently to get an encore. Sleigh Bells didn’t play one. Instead, they popped out from backstage to come hang with their fans. Derek walked out and the first thing he did was run up to me and my guest and ask him, “Hey man, did you get your hat back?”

We then proceeded to chat with him, (we even took a pretty embarrassing photo) before I made my way over to Alexis. I kind of skipped past a few of the people lingering near her and walked right up to her, complimented her on a great show, and after talking for a few moments she corralled the group over to the merch booth, wrapping her arms around my shoulder as we walked.

Once there, more photos commenced, and I had to buy a t-shirt (smart sales move, Alexis).  Now that I had a shirt, and had tried it on to make sure it fit, the next logical idea was to get a signature. I was ready to hand the shirt over to Alexis when she told me that I didn’t need to remove it, and proceeded to full hand my chest and sign the shirt.

“Yeah, grab her boob!” My friend yelled. Classy.

“You have a nice chest.” Alexis said as she finished up her signature.

Can I die happy now? Not only did I get to witness an amazing, energy-filled show, I got to see just how down to earth the duo behind Sleigh Bells can be. They continued to chit chat with fans as if they were all old buddies, smiling genuinely at each compliment and really making the ending to this night worthwhile. An encore would have been amazing, but hey, getting fondled by Alexis Krauss is just as good, I guess.


The very first Streetside Session

“PLEASE do this more often!”

That was only one of the many things that were yelled out at pop-rockers Social Club, as we filmed for the very first installment of Streetside Sessions. If you don’t know what a Streetside Session is (or you can’t guess from the extremely obvious title), then hang tight, because a video will be around here soon. And when it does get here, you’re welcome to swoon and ahh at the brilliance that is performing on the streets of San Diego. To say this shoot was fun would be an understatement. The day was spent in Bankers Hill and included balcony-spectators, rolling compliments, and even a five dollar bill from the window of one woman’s car. Drive-by donations, anyone? The video isn’t here quite yet, but in the meantime, enjoy some behind the scenes shots of the shoot.

I know, I know, we are such a tease.
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