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. Sunday, 16 February 2020 .

It finally happened. After long four years of waiting for Pentatonix to grace our shores again, all our acapella dreams came true last night at their one-night only show in Auckland. A large crowd of excited fans gathered outside Spark Arena way before the doors were even set to open, with a long queue already forming in the merchandise ticket. There was no doubt that this show was highly anticipated by Pentaholics of all ages. From where we were sitting, I overhead three different families talk about how this was the first concert experience for their young ones and you could just see the excitement on their faces, cheering with the crowd in their official tour merchandise.

Opening act Samantha Jade kicked things off with an acoustic set of her own. The Australian musician talked about her X-Factor roots in between set, introducing the rest of her band with a personal anecdote of how they worked together back in 2012 when she won the fourth season of the reality show. She performed a great medley of crowd-pleaser songs like "Say My Name" by Destiny's Child and "Killing Me Softly" by Roberta Flack. It was her rendition of Kanye West's "Heartless" that really stood out to me, though. It's refreshing to hear a softer version of the song and she truly made it her own.

During a short changeover between Samantha Jade and Pentatonix (seriously it was the quickest opening act to main act transition I've ever experienced), the packed arena was clearly enjoying themselves when an impromptu round of a Mexican wave started around the sections. I'm not sure who started it, but it kept going for a while and only really coming to a halt as soon as Pentatonix entered the stage.

They opened their set with one of their more upbeat medleys and I loved their version of Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" so much! Of course, it wouldn't be a Pentatonix concert without performing their first original song - Can't Sleep Love (2019) - for us. Of course the crowd went wild!

I liked how each of them took turns with introducing songs, their spiels mostly about how much they love New Zealand and how much they've missed us. There was a strong theme of nostalgia in their show too. While they performed some current hits like Dua Lipa's new song "Don't Start Now" - a song they were performing for the first time especially for this show. It was a hit, of course, especially to the younger crowd. My brother kindly informed me it was a popular TikTok song and I thought it was fitting given the diversity of the crowd.

The setlist catered for a broad range of audience, but even then I thought they spoke a lot about their evolution as artists. I didn't realise they got their start from a reality TV show. I had always thought they were discovered on YouTube! I don't know if it was intentional or not, but they inadvertently paid homage to New Zealand when they performed Kimbra and Gotye's smash hit "Somebody That I Used To Know" - a song that's especially meaningful to the group as it was their first viral video posted.

There were a lot of highlights from the night. The graphics during their 'choir' song performances was creative and fun and just unlike anything I've ever seen on a live stage before. Also hearing them perform "Shallow" live was an unexpected delight, and the way they got the crowd to engage fully during their medley of Queen's "We Will Rock You", The Backstreet Boys' "I Want It That Way", and of course, "Old Town Road" was incredible. We were stomping our feet, clapping, and singing along. My shy little brother included! Another favourite was their stunning performance of John Lennon's "Imagine" - a personal favourite of my mums. They also performed Bohemian Rhapsody on stage - their version of that is ingrained in me as it is played loudly in our household several times a week. To see it live was an otherworldly experience. Mitch's vocal range was just unbelievable and I couldn't believe that it was all acapella. Hearing Kirstin's voice was oddly comforting but maybe that's because her Youtube mashup of my favourite Disney songs is literally my comfort song. It was awesome hearing her live and watching her dance around stage like the great performer that she is!

My absolute favourite moment, though, was Kevin Olusola's solo. After a quick spiel about how they found Kevin on Youtube because they needed a beatboxer and his viral video was the first one to come up in the search (yet another reminder of the power of SEO - optimise your keywords, friends! You never know who will come across your work from a quick search). At that time Kevin was a pre-med student at Yale and had exams so couldn't make the audition. But by some miraculous reason, he ended up being free that weekend and said "he was feeling adventurous" and flew across the country to audition. The rest, as they say, is history. Kevin showed us what he was all about when he played the cello and beatboxed the Game of Thrones theme. It was mesmerising. The sheer talent to be able to do that so flawlessly. Wow. I never thought I'd say this but thank goodness med school didn't work out!

They performed a few more songs - a mashup of Ariana Grande songs ("her evolution" as Mitch said), another original song, and even a happy birthday song to the girl in front of the crowd holding a sign that said she turned 11 today. Their encore ended with a powerful performance of Hallelujah. The dark arena, the lights from the camera flash, simple staging with just static white lights illuminating the group made for a great final performance.

The night ended with a standing ovation and I couldn't help but think of all the kids in the crowd who was experiencing a concert live for the first time. What an introduction to the wonderful world of live music! I wouldn't be surprised if the Pentatonix Youtube channel gained more views and followers overnight.

Follow Pentatonix here.

. Sunday, 2 February 2020 .

Hello and welcome to this week's ten things! Actually, it's the first ten things of 2020 and it's still my favourite feature on this blog. What can I say? I love a good list. Except when there are uncrossed items on my to-do list. Lol.

1. Is it just me or did January feel like a year and a half? So much has happened. On a global scale, it's been a bit of a shit start. I can't believe half the stuff in the news. I mean, I can. I know it's real and happening but it is hard to process. I'm hoping February is kinder to us all.

2. Peppa Pig voice actor Harley Bird just quit after 13 years in the role. She allegedly got paid £1,000 per hour for the gig and honestly I've never wanted to be Peppa Pig more in my life than this moment. BRB practicing my Peppa Pig voice. I actually do a good impression of Peppa - I used to do it to make my little brother laugh. I do George's pig noises very well.

3. When is summer ending? I honestly cannot stand the heat. I'm sweaty from walking when I get to work, I'm sweaty at work because the air condition doesn't work most of the time, I'm sweaty as soon as I leave the office and the sun is still up. Hot girl summer but it's really just me sweating my tits off walking around, looking dazed in Auckland. I miss wearing nice clothes!

4. Friday night was spent at the launch of Beau Louis Takapu's label and it was gorgeous! It was one of the warmest fashion events I've ever been to - and I don't mean the weather. What I love about Beau's ethos as a designer is that he is so proud of his Tongan heritage and he's not afraid to show it. You could really feel the heart of the culture on Friday night! From the live music, the friendliness from everyone in attendance (even HRH Princess Pilolevu was there!), and the way the audience cheered for every look - it's refreshing to be part of a crowd like that. I found so many pieces I wanted (the lace skirt was EVERYTHING) and some well-tailored suits that would suit my brother's style. It was so nice to catch-up with the Project Runway crew afterwards too! I love how most of them have remained friends (Massey literally arrived in Auckland less than an hour before the show and went straight there - Kerry said that's true love and I agree) and it's so cool to be surrounded by such creativity. Even if it did take us a while to find after-party! All in all an adventurous, lovely night. Thank you, Beau, for having me along. An absolute honour to see you grow!

5. I've been thinking about self-care practices I can adapt this year. You know, more than the face mask and bath type of thing. Because we all know that self-care isn't pretty half of the time. It's confronting trauma and unhealed parts of ourselves, it's being vulnerable to admit our self-sabotaging ways, it's looking at our lives and seeing what is or isn't working for us and doing something about it. Personally I think one of the self-care practices I want to bring into my life more is the art of stillness. I love being on the go - I think I thrive on busy and multitasking and juggling a lot of things at the same time but I do crave the quiet sometimes too. I think incorporating that into my life more will mean I can better balance things. So today I am planning to stay in bed, put my headphones on, and listen to an entire album end to end. Watch this space!

6. My lovely friend Kim has launched her much-anticipated podcast this week! It's called Pretty Depressed and honestly while listening to it, I keep pausing and re-listening to the bits that have been resonating. I started the day listening to the Mia Lux episode and the conversation around the causes of depression was so insightful particularly the part where they talked about how failing to follow your dreams and your hearts desires can lead to feeling depressed. It's something I've been thinking about a lot lately and like I've talked about earlier in this post, sometimes self-care is also reevaluating your life and making the decision to change it if you feel you're not living the life that you dreamed about. 2020 is definitely going to be a big year! I'm so in awe of you, Kim! It's so typical of her to take the negative and turn it into something positive that can help her and others. Listen to it here.

7. This Vanity Fair feature on Bong Joon-ho is incredible. Parasite was one of the best films of 2019 and I'm a huge fan of this man! From throwing casual shade at the Oscars being a local event to all his proud dad energy at the SAG Awards, Bong Joon-ho exudes the kind of power I want to embody this year.

8. You know I'm a big advocate for outfit repeating and I truly believe the most sustainable way of approaching fashion is loving, wearing, and looking after the stuff we already have. I was sent a media release last week that's too good not to share - Merchant Newmarket will have an on-site cobbler from this month! It's a great service for us who like to keep wearing our favourite footwear over and over again (I know I'm guilty of this - I have about four pairs of shoes on rotation and that's it). It's handy to know we can go get any pairs of shoes repaired there by on-site cobbler Steve Monks. I hear they are even offering a monogramming service for Deuce sneakers and I'm really tempted to get a pair monogrammed! Prices range from $20 for a basic repair to $55 for a full resole and heel fix. So good!

9. "You know, there’s one place that all the people with the greatest potential are gathered. One place, and that’s the graveyard. People ask me all the time: “What kind of stories do you want to tell, Viola?” And I say, exhume those bodies, exhume those stories. The stories of the people who dreamed big and never saw those dreams to fruition, people who fell in love and lost. I became an artist — and thank God I did — because we are the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life." I think about this Viola Davis speech from the 2017 Oscars often. I love awards season purely for the acceptance speeches (I still can't get through this speech by Kristen and Bobby Lopez without crying. They wrote "Let It Go" for their daughters and it's so special) and this one has stuck with me ever since. I think about the ordinary stories that make up our lives a lot and the more I strive to be more mindful and live a life with intention, the more I realise that these ordinary stories are what makes our lives remarkable. Maybe it's not about the big, monumental moments that define our lives. Maybe it's always been in the smaller, often forgotten details. This has been front and centre for me as I work on the next stage of this site so keep an eye out for that. But for now, I'm going to just play this speech over and over again.

10. Let us enjoy the moon together.

. Thursday, 30 January 2020 .

Last Friday night I went along to the screening of Midway - a film that I have been hearing about for months mostly due to the fact that my bedtime routine includes a quick (okay, quick-ish) scroll of Luke Evans's Instagram account every night. Can confirm it's the best way to end the day. Anyway, back to Midway...

The synopsis:

MIDWAY centers on the Battle of Midway, a clash between the American fleet and the Imperial Japanese Navy which marked a pivotal turning point in the Pacific Theater during WWII. The film, based on the real-life events of this heroic feat, tells the story of the leaders and sailors who used their instincts, fortitude and bravery to overcome the odds.

I've always been cautious around 'war movies' because I feel like sometimes it can be gratuitous but I approached Midway with curiousity, an open mind, and a thirst for Ed Skrein's chiselled features genuine interest in how they've approached the telling of this significant event in history. Personally when it comes to films with a heavy subject matter like this, I try and condition myself beforehand. Especially because as action-packed as war films usually are, the pacing can be a bit slow. You know how sometimes you're just not in the mood to see something intense and heavy? I was feeling a little bit like that. It was a Friday evening and it's been a massive week and I felt like maybe I couldn't handle it but I couldn't be more wrong. Midway is one of those films that keep you engrossed throughout its 2 hrs 18 min runtime.

Casting wise, it couldn't have been more random. I never thought I'd watch Darren Criss aka Blaine from Glee and Nick Jonas together in a war film but here we are. I also liked seeing Woody Harrelson in a more serious role and Patrick Wilson sans the glorious wig he donned for Aquaman.

Though the reviews I've read so far haven't been too favourable, I actually think Midway is one of the better war films released in ages because it gave us a glimpse into 'the enemy' too. It does a great job in showing the complexity of war and how difficult it is to categorise people as just 'good' and 'bad'. The most profound scene for me was the scene where this line was taken from. It reads poetically but it was one of the most gut wrenching scenes of the film that was reminiscent of Titanic. I also think a lot of the conflict and depiction of the Americans and the Japanese was done well. It's easy for a war film to go take the glorified hero and villain approach, but I feel Midway humanised them in a way where both sides of the story were shown with fairness.

More than that, Midway reminded me that when you think about it, there are no real winners in a war. Only lives lost, only families broken, only resources depleted, only grounds ruined. The effects of it felt for generations after. By the time the credits rolled around and that final, heart-wrenching quote popped up on screen, my heart felt so heavy I needed Luke Evans to hold me tight, stroke my hair, and tell me that everything is going to be alright.

Midway is in cinemas now. Watch the trailer here. Thank you Roadshow and Undertow media for having me along!