Live Review & Photos: Tolan Shaw, Ki, and Jonny Tarr at the Belly Up, October 30, 2015

Jonny Tarr
Jonny Tarr by Alex Matthews

Local musicians Tolan Shaw, Ki, and Jonny Tarr brought a fun night of local music to the always-rocking Belly Up in Solana Beach on Friday, October 30. Each group brought a full band to play for a large crowd of eager fans. Celebrating their recent performances at the KAABOO music festival in late September, these groups are making a push to rise through the local San Diego musical ranks. The night was packed with talented local artists showing off their impressive skills.

Jonny Tarr, a San Diegan by way of the UK, is a talented muilti-instrumentalist who can be seen playing solo shows all over town. His skills on keyboard, sax, guitar and vocals are always impressive to see live. With a nod to artists like Ed Sheeran, Tarr is able to build complex songs and jams by skilfully overlapping loops and rhythms with samplers and electronics.

For this Belly Up show (in honor of the new Sky High EP), Tarr brought out a full band to realize the album’s complex arrangements and fuller sound. Leading the new group from behind the mic, Tarr’s hand-picked San Diego all-stars dripped with funk, and a powerful horn section really warmed up the Solana Beach crowd. Tarr’s own guitar playing and multi-layered vocal tracks led the sound. Percussionist Monette Marino was a standout in the group, slamming her congas and beaming to the audience.


Ki are a fast-rising local group of five talented musicians. Playing an eclectic mix of styles, their sound is a mix of rock, pop, and even some folk elements. This band is full of energy, and its stage show is a powerful one.

Pummeling the audience with fast-paced songs, Ki’s vibe, their fans, and the positive crowd response was infectious. Featuring the animated Kiley Halpern on vocals and flute, Erik Pierce on guitar, Curran Kiel on drums, Tony Salmone on keyboards, and Ben Boon on bass, Ki are a band on the rise, and they are performing like they have something to prove. Recent single “She Knows” was a highlight of their set with a powerful driving beat and belting vocals. An always-fun drum battle punctuated the middle of their set.

Tolan Shaw is a talented singer songwriter and already a veteran of the San Diego music scene. His recent EP Chin Up was the winner of this year’s San Diego Music Award for Best Pop Album, and he has successfully played all over town and throughout the Midwest. A former member of the band The New Archaic, Shaw has clearly cut his San Diego musical chops. For this show at the Belly Up, his backing band was tight and ran through a fun set of R&B and rock-flavored pop tunes.

Shaw’s stage presence is undeniable, and he seems truly comfortable in front of the mic. His soulful singing style and look make for a very polished package. This talented San Diegan is definitely an act to watch out for on a much larger national stage. Kudos to the Belly Up for putting together such a sold lineup of live acts on the rise.

Photos: Tolan Shaw, Ki, and Jonny Tarr at the Belly Up, October 30, 2015

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