San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

Small Crush kicks off tour with a heartfelt House of Blues serenade

The Voodoo Room was all smiles that night as energetic openers and smooth indie main act Small Crush lit up the room
Katerina Portela
In a smooth performance of sweet lyricism and melodic guitar, Small Crush brought out older hits and songs from the new album “Penelope”

The lights were low and the volume was high at the House of Blues’ Voodoo Room as indie rock band Small Crush kicked off their “Penelope” tour with a dynamic show on March 22.

Small Crush is a Bay Area project led by Logan Hammons, the frontwoman and songwriter who has a particular style of honesty and personality in her lyricism. She doesn’t shy away from childlike wordplay that reflects emotional turmoil and heartbreak. 

Somehow, she can make struggles sound sweet and upbeat, which is a style that dominates her recent album “Penelope,” released in the fall of last year. It’s a wonderfully produced indie classic-to-be that brings together coming-of-age themes with an ever-strumming guitar and smiling vocals. It’s the style that shines brightly in that night’s performance.

Before the show began, the Voodoo Room was awash in blue and purple lights. Groups of young fans trickled in, chattering in anticipation. One such fan was Ethan Zaro, a senior from San Diego State. 

“I’m really excited because I was planning to see them a couple (of) years ago here at the Voodoo Room, but I had a midterm the next day so I couldn’t go. What brings me here this year— I don’t have a midterm tomorrow,” Zaro said.

San Diego-born Rain on Fridays opened the night’s performance. Just a year ago, the trio could be found headlining College Area house shows with their angsty, thrashing songs. Now, they’ve taken a step up to play alongside bigger bands and grace the House of Blues. 

Not long after stepping on stage, they greeted the crowd warmly, albeit awkwardly and launched into new music and crowd favorites. 

Between their noisy guitars and thick vocals, Rain on Fridays inspired waves of teenage mosh pits and kicking Converse. Lyrics like “I am

Logan Hammons, frontwoman of Small Crush, began the band as a teenager, writing most of the songs with introspective and emotional storytelling

your cigarette after sex,” nestled in reverb, were contrasted by heartfelt quips between songs.

Rain on Fridays ended on a fast note; Raue took it faster.

Raue is a two-piece band that packs a big punch. The Santa Cruz pair immediately upped the ante in the room, sparking a frantic energy in the audience. Their grunge-inspired sound was nothing short of fast-paced and exciting. 

Drummer Jaxon Huckle hurled his body on the drums in a flash of arms, blonde hair and drumsticks. His punchy drumming complemented singer and guitarist Paige Kalenian’s vocals, which were at once sweet and sharp, invoking an edge comparable to Alanis Morrisette. 

Kalenian’s bright red hair was a flash onstage as she jumped, headbanged and climbed onto speakers to leap back down. 

Raue was no stranger to getting a crowd going. At one point, Kalenian instructed the crowd to split in half. 

“You know what happens when we split the room in half,” Kalenian said, smiling. “You gotta run at each other!”

And the crowd followed, resulting in electrifying moshing and dancing as Raue rocked the stage. 

In an interview after the show, Raue shared what goes through their heads as they perform.

“There’s very few moments in my life where I’m fully in the present moment. Not thinking of the future, not thinking about the past. Just thinking presently. Just in this exact second, what’s happening,” Kalenian said. “And that’s what’s happening for me on stage. Whatever is in the exact moment.”

Huckle agreed and added that the feeling is nothing short of surreal.

“The energy of the crowd is a beautiful thing. I always don’t expect it, and then I see it, and it’s like, ‘woah,’” Huckle said. “It’s always a moment of, personally, it’s always like, ‘Do I deserve this? Am I really doing that good?’ Shoot, it’s beautiful. I love it.”

It wasn’t long before Small Crush took the stage with a sweet smile.

The moment Small Crush launched into their first song and Hammons began to sing, it was like a breath of fresh air. 

After two angsty mosh-pit inspiring bands, the smooth and soft indie style of their music was a relaxing contrast.

The crowd immediately chilled out and began to sway as Hammons sang as if she were the only one in the room. The spell broke as she looked out to the crowd and said, “What’s up San Diego!” 

She started off with two songs off of their debut self-titled album, “You Suck” and “Tummy Rumblin’.”

The first song invoked lovesick aimlessness and talked of anger at someone you still long for. “Tummy Rumblin’” has a beachy sound with similar themes of heartbreak, yet looking around, there were only smiles and nodding heads in the room.

Being the first show of the tour, the band sounded fresh and eager to start on a good foot. Hammons would talk between songs — at one point raving about tacos in Oceanside and at another asking the crowd if they felt the year fly by.

“It’s already the end of March? Where is time going?” she said.

Then, Hammons launched into a song that she called her favorite she had ever written. It’s called Mail Truck, a fun, wandering song that features The Cars-like synths and a symbolic mail truck that runs her over. 

Toward the last half of the performance, the band welcomed a friend and former bandmate they introduced as “Tommy.” He brought along a pedal steel guitar, an overlooked instrument played on the lap with metal fingerpicks to draw out the country twang of the strings.

The addition of the pedal steel guitar brought the music together and gave each song more of a longing, romantic sound.

SDSU senior Madison Darnauer was in attendance as a first time listener and said the instrumentals were a highlight of the show.

“That was sick. It was amazing, overall, the show was 10/10 but that did it for me,” Darnauer said. “I’m going to be blasting them on the way home now.”

Small Crush’s sleepy, laidback feel in the last half, with lyrics like “I would be in a dream if that’s the only way to be close to you,” created a performance that felt like young love translated into the sound of indie pop and smooth guitar. 

Finally, Hammons leaned forward to say, “We’re not doing an encore… this is our encore!” 

She played “Chicken Noodle,” their popular, poppy and quick song that ends in jumping and cheers. However, they were easily swayed and played an encore after all.

“Tour just started,” she said. “We’re still figuring it out.”

In a way, this could sum up the gist of Small Crush’s sound and lyrical style on the “Penelope” tour. Fun, spontaneous and still “figuring it out.”

About the Contributor
Katerina Portela
Katerina Portela, Staff Writer