YOUNG RISING SONS @ THE TROUBADOUR 10/20/16
Red Bank, New Jersey’s Young Rising Sons are good at setting a solid live performance bar so their return to the Troubadour in Los Angeles was a welcome one. Where the blue-collar earnestness of singer/guitarist Andy Tongren, bassist Julian Dimagiba, and drummer Steve Patrick fuses with soulful optimism and a river of feel-good underneath is the stuff that they have built their pop/rock smart music and themselves upon and why we come back for repeat shows.
The staples from their eponymous and The Kids Will Be Fine EPs still sound off fresh with Tongren’s vocal range still an impressive, pretty and pretty damned impressive thing. Of course they played “the hits”: the girls in the front row reacted accordingly when the first chords of songs like “King of the World,” “Coming Home,” “Red & Gold” and “High” began and watching Tongren’s audience attentive nature, it’s obvious that he takes his role as a front man quite seriously. But a few new songs also came out to play like their new single, “Undefeatable,” a song of uplift that fits perfectly within the YSR wheelhouse, but there was also “Carry On” and “Never Been Better.” When hearing songs for the first time (live or otherwise), the judgment is strong, but the verdict is they are solid and let’s hope that we get them in recorded form soon. That kind of beautiful mutual sing-a-long thing that happens during “Turnin” – of course – happened and it was business as usual joyous rowdiness when the show closed with “Fucked Up”…but no one would have it any other way.
K.FLAY @ THE TROUBADOUR 10/26/16
That the Troubadour was sold out well in advance of Kristine Flaherty’s arrival was not a surprise: her underground popularity as an indie hip hop/pop/rock artist has always been a thing of substantial beauty. But 2016 has brought Flaherty aka K.Flay a renewed sense of musical self, having signed to the Interscope Records imprint, Night Street Records and releasing her new Crush Me EP, hence the Crush Me Tour. Line of fans around the corner waiting for doors to open: check. A crush of bodies impatiently waiting for their indie idol to take the stage: check. Hands (and drinks) in the air with mouths tripping along word for word while K.Flay recited her introspective lyrical history beginning with “Hollywood Forever.”
Backed by a drummer and guitarist and clad in all black down to her Doc Martens (double knots, folks) the show was a fair exercise in audience ownership. Between the vocal flow and spit fire of her conscious inner dialogue and the outer deep pockets of rhythmic hip/rock beats supporting songs like “Wishing It Was You” (preceded by a swig of Fireball), “Hail Mary,” “Make Me Fade,” “FML” and “You Felt Right” this was the most impressive K.Flay we’ve seen. Ownership. The Troubadour room was hers because, not only do her songs tap into some real self-conscious emotional corners that (judging by the room’s demographic) even those over 30 can appreciate, but she can bring that precious studio produced sound to the stage in order for the party to play in the live. We were fortunate no blood was spilled during “Blood in the Cut.”