Allen Stone | The Echo | 2/20/14

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When I first started this blog in January 2013, one of the first blog entries I put up was a list of my favorite concerts of 2012. Breaking the Top 10 was Allen Stone’s performance at the Fonda Theatre, Friday, October 19th, 2012. I only wrote a couple of sentences about the performance (below … which I should have proofread), but being an avid fan of soul and R&B music, I was particularly impressed.

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His performance at The Fonda made me an instant fan, so much so that I reviewed his first album “Last To Speak”, tried (but missed) his set at Coachella, and bought VIP tickets to see him perform at The Beach Ball Festival: Soul Revue, even hanging out with him and his manager afterwards at my favorite bar in Santa Monica. When I heard that he had a gig scheduled at The Echo (a venue, ironically enough, that I hadn’t seen a show in), I snapped a ticket up immediately. Knowing that he was currently writing and recording music for his next album, I anticipated a mix of both old and new songs.

When I arrived at the venue, there was a line at least 30 people deep. Knowing that the event had sold out, I asked the bouncer whether I had to wait in line if my ticket was at will call. He indicated that the people waiting in line were waiting to see if any extra tickets would become available. I was glad that I got my ticket way in advance.

As soon as I stepped into the 350 person capacity venue, I felt a warmth overcome me. Yeah, it was packed, and I kinda felt sorry for anybody hoping to score a ticket last minute. I became somewhat resigned insofar as I knew that I got there a little too late to find and stake out a good vantage point to take pictures, but I did what I could.

An as aside, and a concert going tip, at The Echo there  isn’t any reserved seating. The booths that line the walls are first come, first served. As I was walking through the venue during Allen’s set, I noticed there was space between an older man and his wife at a booth. In between songs, I kindly asked if I could stand there for a song or two to take some picture, and he pointed his finger at me saying that I was blocking his wife’s view, and that the section was “reserved” for him. After the show, on my way out, I asked the the employees working the ticket office about “reserved seating”, and they told me that there was no such thing at The Echo. Even old people are mean.

That little rude blip didn’t get me down though. How could it when the music was so good? His setlist was a mix of tracks from his first album (“Figured It Out”), self titled album (“What I’ve Seen”, “Unaware”, “Contact High” and an acoustic version of “Satisfaction”), covers (Tingsek’s “Six Years”, Chaka Khan’s “Tell Me Something Good” and Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know”) and newly written material (“Momma Gonna Punish You”, “Million” and “Voodoo”).

He sang the Gotye cover for his encore, and I must say that his vocal rendition, and arrangement, of it blew my mind. For a song that has been covered by everyone and their mom, he breathed a new life into it. His voice forceful, and longing, it was a performance that gave me chills, making me fall in love with a song that, truthfully, I never cared for.

The only thing that would have topped the Gotye cover would have been if Allen Stone performed the song that got me interested in his music and sound in the first place: “Another Break Up Song”.  That didn’t happen, but I ain’t complaining.

After the gig, I bumped into a mutual friend who writes for the Los Angeles Times. He was with Allen’s publicist and I exchanged some pleasantries adding that I was happy to hear that Allen would be playing at the Playboy Jazz Festival this year. I didn’t tell her that I actually predicted that he would be performing at the Hollywood Bowl, but I did tell her that I’d buy a ticket for the day Allen performs if he puts “Another Break Up Song” on the setlist. I wonder if my mutual friend can find out if that song gets put on the setlist … hmm ….

Unfortunately, the Flickr slideshow below is not currently available on mobile devices. If you are on a mobile device, please click THIS LINK to get redirected to the set of photos.

Dead Sara | The Port Of Los Angeles | September 14, 2013

Click here to check out the other blog entries I wrote up for the bands (The Section Quartet, Nightmare & The Cat and Deap Vally) I was able to catch at the 2013 Port Of Los Angeles Lobster Festival.

Dead Sara.
Dead Sara.

Dead Sara: THE reason why I went to Lobster Fest at the Port of Los Angeles in the first place. I saw Dead Sara at the El Rey earlier this year, and their show kicked ass. In fact, it’s probably in my top 5 for “best shows of the year” in terms of sheer, overall awesomeness. My only regret from that show was that I wasn’t able to get a decent picture of Siouxie Medley shredding on her guitar.

Dead Sara
Dead Sara

Objective for their Lobster Fest gig? Snap that elusive picture while avoiding an elbow to the chest in the pit. LOL. I met up with members of the The DEADicated and joined them upfront against the railing. One of the members had been there since noon so as to ensure getting a front row spot. Now, THAT’s dedication.

Dead Sara have been in the studio recording new tracks for their next album and everybody there knew it. A lot of the conversations before their set consisted of  “What do you think they’ll be playing?” and “Do you think they’ll play any of their new stuff?”. The anticipation was high. Extremely high.

As Dead Sara took the stage to set up, I shouted, “I love you Siouxie!” then ducked behind another member of the DEADicated.  I noticed Siouxie look up from tuning her guitar, but I didn’t point myself out.  Talk about total, juvenile crush move there. Actually getting embarrassed thinking about it. LOL. I noticed to my left that there was a young girl and her father. I warned them that the crowd up front may start to get a little rowdy when the music got more intense, and told them that I’d do my best to make sure that his daughter wasn’t trampled.

Dead Sara setlist.
Dead Sara setlist.

The set started, and Emily started with the more mellow “Sorry For It All”, but as soon as the guitar lick for “Test On My Patience” kicked in next, the crowd started to swell and get anxious.  As soon as “Monumental Holiday” started, the moshing commenced. I’ll admit, it was kinda tough to take pictures, protect the little girl next to me, and mosh, but really, it’s hard to care when you love the music so much. After “Monumental Holiday”, Dead Sara unveiled, to the crowd’s delight, one of their new songs “Mona Lisa”. Two songs later they unveiled another named “Greaser”.  Videos taken of each are immediately below:

After “Greaser”, I decided to leave my spot up front and see if I could get better shots elsewhere.  Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, and by that time, the battery in my camera had expired. C’est la vie. I was able to get a few cool shots of band, and Siouxsie, but I still feel like I can get better with my Sony Cybershot. Well … looks like I’ll have to catch them again when they start gigging later this year. Ohhh, yeah … late November maybe? At least those are the rumors …

Sean Friday and Emily Armstrong of Dead Sara.
Sean Friday and Emily Armstrong of Dead Sara.
Dead Sara's Chris Null
Dead Sara’s Chris Null
Dead Sara's Siouxsie Medley
Dead Sara’s Siouxsie Medley
Emily Armstrong and Sean Friday of Dead Sara
Emily Armstrong and Sean Friday of Dead Sara
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Siouxsie Medley of Dead Sara