Category Archives: music

The Start to an Adventure

By Michael Neufeld

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[3.5 minute read]

On Sunday, August 13, 2017,  a great new adventure for me began. It was exciting, it was scary, and I couldn’t wait. I was about to begin my freshman year of college. My family and I drove down from Fresno, California the night before my move-in and stayed in a hotel. I was part of the Trojan Marching Band, and with the early move-in schedule, the time we would spend setting up my dorm, and the long four-to-five hour drive down, we were not willing to get up at 3:00 in the morning to finish packing and travel. My younger brother, Daniel, would have especially disliked that.

When we got to campus, my family helped me set up my room. Soon after, they went off to attend the first marching band parent meeting. We met up later, and after a meal, we said our goodbyes. It seemed my family was only there for a few minutes before it was time for them to leave.

Photo by rnaol on Unsplash

I spent the next week at band camp, getting up early each morning to walk to Cromwell Field to learn how to march. I noticed that marching in the University of Southern California band was much different than in my high school band; in high school we shuffled our straight-legged feet across the grass, whereas here we have to pick our feet up off the ground and plant them in steps in front of us at USC. Along with other physical, performance-related differences, I also noticed that this band had way more spirit than any high school band I had seen. Here, we played for the football team; if we weren’t spirited, how could the crowd be?

Along with my marching band experiences, I had so many new things to do, think about, and see as a freshman majoring in Jazz Studies. Traversing across campus from class to class felt a little bit intimidating at first. It was challenging to find all of my classes the first couple of days in territory with which I was unfamiliar. Additionally, there were so many people surrounding me; bikes, skateboards, and DPS cars flew around me as I traveled to and from buildings.

Photo by BP Miller on Unsplash

On this bizarre campus, I found so much to like. I enjoyed eating with my friends at the Parkside Dining Hall. I loved my music classes, and marching band rehearsals always gave me a rush of energy. I picked up a new pastime of zooming around the uncrowded campus late at night with my trusty scooter, something I wasn’t able to do much of in Fresno.

Along with these new, fun experiences, there were some not-so-positive “adventures” that I had to deal with as well. I dealt with some people that for the first time in my life I did not enjoy being around. My roommates and I occasionally rubbed shoulders, something bound to happen when you live with seven other people in a Parkside “suite-style” dorm. I got lost on the Metro once and had to run over a mile from one station to a concert hall.

Photo by Davide Cantelli on Unsplash
Continue reading The Start to an Adventure

LA Experiences: Concert-Going and Live Performances

By Natalie Grace Sipula

[3.5 minute read]

The summer leading up to my first year at USC, I remember planning out all of the exciting things I would do once I arrived in Los Angeles. Alongside attending an amazing university, I was excited about getting to experience all of the exciting culture and character of LA as a USC student for the next four years. While some of my time in LA has unfortunately been spent during the Covid-19 pandemic, I am lucky to have gotten to see and do some pretty amazing things before the pandemic began or when LA county deemed it safe for certain attractions and activities to reopen. As an avid music lover, one of my favorite pastimes is going to live concerts. Luckily, there is always amazing talent performing in LA at any given time. Here are a few of my favorite concert-going experiences of the past couple years. 

My view of the stage at the Hollywood Bowl

My first real concert experience in LA was in October 2019, when I saved up money to see Lana Del Rey perform at the Hollywood Bowl around the time of my 19th birthday. Lana Del Rey is one of my absolute favorite artists who I’ve been listening to since I was in middle school, so when I found out she would be performing in LA the week of my birthday I knew I had to get a ticket. I took the Metro with a friend to Hollywood and we walked to the Hollywood Bowl from there. We found our seats and even though they were about 250 rows back, I was so excited to be there I didn’t care. Lana sang a few songs from her earlier records, but mostly performed songs from her latest album at the time, Norman F****** Rockwell. Her voice was just as effervescent and melodic in person as it is on her albums, and the venue added an especially awesome ambience as it was outdoors and the Hollywood sign was glowing in the background nestled amongst the Hollywood hills. Beyond that, another exciting aspect of seeing concerts in LA is that, because so many celebrities live here, artists will sometimes bring other musicians they have collaborated with on stage with them! At this concert, Lana Del Rey also sang with Jesse Rutherford of The Neighbourhood (one of my favorite bands!) and Zella Day.

Dave Bayley of Glass Animals singing “Heat Waves”

One of my favorite concerts I have been to is one I went to this past September—Glass Animals. Glass Animals is an indie rock band from the UK who has most recently been known for their single “Heat Waves” from their 2020 album Dreamland. I’ve been a fan of Glass Animals since high school, and particularly love their debut studio album Zaba, which has a sound I would describe as tropical-cool and mysterious. The band performed songs off of all of their albums during this concert, which was held outside at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, which is definitely one of the more unique venues I’ve been to and added a great ambience. I got lucky for this concert as Glass Animals performed two concerts in LA that weekend and I attended the second one on a Sunday, so the crowd wasn’t quite as big and I was able to get only three rows back from the stage! Lead singer Dave Bayley was one of the best performers I’ve seen yet, interacting with the crowd and dancing to the music throughout the show. The live performance definitely added an element to the music that I hadn’t seen before.

Continue reading LA Experiences: Concert-Going and Live Performances

Local Los Angeles Hotspots Outside of Downtown

By Melissa Kitagawa

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[3 minute read]

As a person who has lived in Los Angeles her entire life, I have gotten the chance to explore the city for years. For those who have only recently arrived in LA to attend USC, they might not be as knowledgable about the best spots to visit. Here are some places that stand out to me that I still continue to visit every year.

The Grove

Photo by Roberto Nickson on Unsplash

Everyone in Los Angeles has been to The Grove at least once. Most of the stores are more high-end, but many people just go because of the bright lights and warm atmosphere. However, if you go, the best time to go is at night when the views are the prettiest. My personal favorite part is the farmer’s market. They have cheap, tasty food and the best crepes.

Top of the World

This is a very local secret. It is hidden in the hills of Pacific Palisades. Not many people know of this place and I just found out about it recently. It does take a bit of a drive to get here, but it’s worth it. It is essentially a lookout point you can hike up to, and it gives you the best Los Angeles view possible. From here you can see the entire LA coastline and at night, the view is even more stunning.

Griffith Observatory

Photo by Pedro Marroquin on Unsplash

The Griffith Observatory is a very popular site to visit. They have a variety of shows where they project the night sky on a screen on the ceiling indoors and you can learn about the night sky and our planet. However, many people enjoy coming here to see the views of Los Angeles from high up and also to enjoy their hiking trails.

Sawtelle Blvd.

Sawtelle is a street in LA, and if you walk from Sawtelle and Pico to Sawtelle and La Grange, there are tons of popular Asian stores. Many locals visit this area for some of the city’s best ramen, lots of boba choices, and yummy sweets. It is open very late, so if you want some midnight ramen, this is the perfect place to go. One particularly popular place here is Bsweet. They have warm doughnuts filled with ice cream and all different kinds of warm fudge.

Culver City Stairs

Photo by Adam Rhodes on Unsplash

The official name of this spot is the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook, but locals call it the Culver City Stairs. This is another popular scenic view; however, most people come here to exercise. Visitors range from children to adults to whole teams who come here to exercise. The individual stairs are tall and the climb is long, but once you’re at the top, you can take a rewarding picture to document your achievement.

Whichever places you choose to visit, I am confident you will be able to capture some great photos and some great memories. Take advantage of your time in Los Angeles by immersing yourself in the local experience, and I promise you won’t regret it!

Featured Image by Denys Nevozhai on Unsplash

Melissa is a recent graduate who studied Business Administration. She graduated high school as valedictorian and spent her summer before college volunteering at the 2017 Summer Taipei Universade. She is half Japanese and half Taiwanese but has lived in Los Angeles her whole life. Every year she visits friends and family in Taiwan and speaks Mandarin fluently. Her interests include playing basketball, traveling, and socializing.