CONCERT REVIEW: Leon Bridges @ LA's Greek Theatre

By Jessica Klausing

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The Los Angeles stars shined bright for Leon Bridges on his Good Thing tour stop at the Greek Theatre. Bridges brings to life a carefree nostalgic vibe with his 60’s inspired R&B grooves, soothing soulful voice, elegant ‘classic man’ apparel, and romanticized storytelling. The sold out crowd were in for quite a treat.

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Leon Bridges offers exclusive Meet n’ Greet packages for his tour stops. They are truly one of a kind. I have had the opportunity to participate in several VIP experiences for different artists and I must say Leon’s is by far my favorite! Here is my review of the VIP experience.

VIP check in. Photo by Jessica Klausing.

VIP check in. Photo by Jessica Klausing.

My instructions were to arrive for check in at 4:00P on the dot. The VIP tent and check in stations were set up in the employee parking lot behind the Greek Theatre. I had an easy check in even though a staff member almost forgot to give me my meet n’ greet pass. After that I made sure to double check to ensure all items were in my swag bag.

The VIP bag came with a signed Good Thing tour poster, 4 postcards of Leon, and a Good Thing album vinyl record cover. Super cool! They had a special merch booth set up for VIP members. I took a few minutes to browse the various tour t-shirts and posters until the lounge opened.

The VIP tent lounge. Photo by Jessica Klausing.

The VIP tent lounge. Photo by Jessica Klausing.

About thirty minutes or so after check in, we were allowed to enter our VIP lounge to chill until it was time for soundcheck and meet n’ greet. At first glance the tent does not look that great but it’s much more cooler inside.

Inside the VIP lounge. Photo by Jessica Klausing.

Inside the VIP lounge. Photo by Jessica Klausing.

Once inside this place was transformed into a swanky little nightclub. There were two bars on opposite ends, a retro vinyl record listening station, a guitar playing station, and cozy inflatable couches to lounge on. Definitely quite the little set up!

VIP listening booth. Photo by Jessica Klausing.

VIP listening booth. Photo by Jessica Klausing.

The listening booth was my favorite lounge perk! I loved how they turned the equipment cases into a book shelf decked out in retro posters, music books, and a generous record collection to sample. Leon’s crew can be my personal interior designers any day! The record collection had everything from Billie Holiday to The Temptations. It was pretty cool getting to listen to many of Leon’s musical inspirations behind his own retro-soul brand.

VIP record collections. Photo by Jessica Klausing.

VIP record collections. Photo by Jessica Klausing.

The next cool lounge perk was the guitar station. We were told this was actually one of Leon’s guitars. Kudos to Leon for allowing a bunch of strangers to pick up and play his guitar. Next to the guitar was a music stand with the sheet music for Leon’s song, “River” if you wanted to learn how to play it.

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Around 5PM, we were called to line up at the front gate for Leon’s soundcheck. We were invited in to watch the last two songs of the soundtrack. The crew strictly informed us that we were not allowed to take pictures or videos of the soundtrack. Unfortunately, I have no photos to share but just getting to see and hear Leon perform his songs up close was something so magical that not even a recording could capture.

My rockstar pose on the Greek Theatre stage.

My rockstar pose on the Greek Theatre stage.

After soundtrack we were lead to line up backstage. I figured that we were going to get to meet Leon and get our photos taken with him onstage. Super cool! However, this was not the case. We were given the opportunity to pose individually onstage. Still cool! The Greek Theatre is one of my favorite outdoor amphitheaters. From the audience’s point of view, it’s quite a breathtaking sight to see the endless sea of green trees behind the stage. Getting to see from the artist’s point of view was a unique experience. I prefer to see the artist and the trees but I’m sure it’s more breathtaking at night.

Meeting Leon Bridges.

Meeting Leon Bridges.

After the stage photos, we were told that Leon had his crew set up the meet n’ greets in his dressing room backstage! I thought it was really nice of Leon to invite his fans backstage with him. We got a little mini tour of the backstage area on the way to the dressing rooms. I didn’t get any backstage photos because I was not sure if it was allowed. I will say the backstage is not as glamorous as you think. It was quite barren with white cement walls. It reminded me more of a high school gym locker room to be honest.

Leon awaited us against the Good Thing tour backdrop in the dressing room. As we waited in line, several of us fans chatted excitedly about the first time we heard Leon’s music. The most beautiful thing about these VIP meet n’ greet experiences is being able to share the love of music with other like-minded fans.

Leon is such a gentleman! He was very sweet and gave lots of hugs. I liked how this experience did not feel rushed. It was truly genuine. We knew we were on a limited time frame but not once did an usher try to ‘hurry us’ through our photo with Leon. Thank you CID Entertainment! I wish more VIP experience companies would follow your lead.

I’m not sure if all of Leon’s VIP experiences are set up exactly that this LA one in particular, but if you get the chance, I would highly recommend it.

SONG REVIEW: Ch3ls - "Crying Wolf"

By Jessica Klausing

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Ch3ls releases her new single, “Crying Wolf,” a seamless blend of country, blues, and hard rock with a tinge of pop appeal, thrown in for good measure.  She’s a spitfire powder-keg of talent ready to explode into the atmosphere.

The delicate opening guitar lulls you into a false sense of security as Ch3ls sweetly sings, “Oh you know/I used to care/ but how much can a girl take?”

Her sugary sweet delivery comes as a surprise when you realize that she’s calling out a guy who did her wrong: “Don’t you know…You did it to yourself/so go lay down in that bed you made,” she croons casually before the tempo picks up and we’re thrown into a whirlwind of booming hand claps and somber backing vocals.

Ch3ls’ howls are justified when she reveals evidence of this man’s behavior: “A wolf in sheep’s clothes/ That huffin’ and bluffin’ is bullshit/I’m sick of your lying and whining, you crying wolf!” The electric guitar solo that ensues will have your heart pumping on an adrenaline fueled high. Before long you’ll find yourself howling along with Ch3ls’ fierce wolf pack. It’s well worth the listen.

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Static and Surrender @ Hollywood's Hotel Cafe

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Static and Surrender are on tour throughout California in honor of their debut album release. Their energetic riffs and rhythms are on par with the alternative superstar acts such as Lifehouse and Matchbox Twenty. Jeff Campbell (lead vocals, guitar) backed by John Schuman (drums), Adam Schuman (guitar, vocals), and Lauren Stockner (bass player) – all stars in their own right – delivered a passionate performance at Hollywood’s Hotel Café.

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Check out Static and Surrender’s debut album. If you get the chance to see them live, do it! Very few artists have that special knack to sound better live than in the studio. Static and Surrender is definitely one of those bands that kick it up a notch in the live shows.

Sound Majesty Presents: Mexico Benefit Concert at West Hollywood’s Whisky A Go Go

Written by Jessica Klausing

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2017 has been a year plagued with many natural disasters around the world. Last month Mexico’s 7.1 magnitude earthquake took hundreds of lives, leaving the country with over $1 billion dollars worth of damages.  Aid and relief funds are still desperately needed.  On Sunday, October 1, Sound Majesty hosted a Mexico benefit concert at West Hollywood’s famed Whisky A Go Go. 

Beck Black served as the emcee, introducing all eight musical acts including a Mariachi band! During the concert, attendees were encouraged to participate in the silent auction upstairs. The auction items included an autographed guitar, signed by all of the benefit artists, Vampire Vineyards wine, and exclusive sunglasses. All ticket and auction proceeds went to the Mexico emergency relief funds.

Matthew Phillips

Matthew Phillips photo by Jessica Klausing

Matthew Phillips photo by Jessica Klausing

San Diego based singer-songwriter Matthew Phillips took the stage at 6:00PM. With an acoustic guitar in hand, Phillips launched into “Together Forever,” a saccharine love ballad. Right off, I was impressed with Phillips ability to connect well with his audience.

Throughout his set, he made sure to make eye contact and reach out to every person in the room. His songs empathize with those who have been “friend zoned” and looking for hope.  His charisma and bell pure vocals stood out on “Goodbye” and “Always Be There.”  “No More Pain” was a beautiful tune dedicated to Mexico. The biggest highlight was his Goo Goo Dolls cover of “Iris,” which prompted an audience sing-a-long.

Jade PraiZe

Jade PraiZe photo by Jessica Klausing

Jade PraiZe photo by Jessica Klausing

Jade PraiZe upped the swag dosage for the night. The UK singer-songwriter strutted on stage with a large red hair bow and cool shades. Her sweet yet snarky demeanor gives a playful edge to her soulful lyrics. Vocally, she reminded me a bit of Amy Winehouse and Fiona Apple. 

PraiZe cries out “Don’t be fooled by the Milky Way/I got through in but I couldn’t stay,” in “Milk Way.” My favorite was “Hands Out” with the ever inspiring, “Put your hands out/Dance like there’s no tomorrow.” I do hope Ms. PraiZe sticks around. I’m curious to hear more from her!

Love Like Suicide

Molly Kills photo by Jessica Klausing

Molly Kills photo by Jessica Klausing

Love Like Suicide stole the show. Period. Singer Molly Kills portrays a gothic femme fatale as she seductively slinks around the stage with long black hair covering her face, crooning out dark secrets. Expect the dark, the sexy, the mystery, and the nostalgia. Their music is a throwback nod to the 90’s grunge and punk genres. If you love Garbage and The Cranberries, then you’ll love this band.

Their newest single, “Side Effects” off the EP, Verdugo exhibits impressive alternative guitar hooks and hypnotic synths. Guitarist Mor Kosmik and Bassist Troy Richardson riffed through other punkwave hits such as “Born Again” and “On A High.” The benefit show was particularly important to Kosmik, who is originally from Mexico City. She proudly showed off ‘Made in Mexico’ written on her left leg for the night.

The Knitts

The Knitts photo by Jessica Klausing

The Knitts photo by Jessica Klausing

The Knitts took us back to the post-punk and Brit-Pop scene. Their songs were reminiscent of early Rolling Stones and The Beatles. The songs boasted plenty of upbeat, catchy classic rock melodies. Lead vocalist/guitarist Charlie Volkens impressed with his boyish charms and husky low growls. The Knitts were determined to get everyone up during their set and they succeeded!

“Vamonos Mexico” turned the venue into one big dance party. “This is the only song we have about Mexico,” joked Charlie Volkens. The energy continued with the more country twangin’ “Hold Steady Pretty Lady.” “Get Up Get Out” had everyone chanting out the song’s title. This song could easily be the modern-day Beatles’ “Twist and Shout” party anthem.

Peter DiStefano

Peter DiStefano photo by Jessica Klausing

Peter DiStefano photo by Jessica Klausing

Peter DiStefano slowed it down with more beautiful acoustic guitar. Beck Black introduced his set as “pop rock unplugged.” DiStefano is a prolific musician in the business. He’s composed countless music for television, film, and video games. He is best known for his early alternative rock band, Porno for Pyros (The Jane’s Addiction offshoot).

DiStefano shared his softer rock tunes with us. His solo work is more delicate than his other musical projects. It’s a definite contrast to his electronica pumped side band, Venice Underground. He did surprise us with a few Porno for Pyros covers. His acoustic version of “Tahitian Moon” was performed with such graceful precision, that I actually prefer his version to the original.

Falling Doves

Falling Doves photo by Jessica Klausing

Falling Doves photo by Jessica Klausing

Hollywood’s own Falling Doves were up next. Their music is described as “whiskey laced vocals infused with bits of glam and blues.” Lead singer Christopher Leyva donned a leather jacket with slicked-up black spiky hair. He looked like the frontman of a hell raiser 80’s punk band. Don’t be fooled by the apparel. The music is fueled with heavy guitar riffs but it’s a definite nod to classic rock with confessional storytelling.

The Falling Doves rolled into the power rock anthem “Ready to Go!” The sultry guitar licks pop infused “Paris” followed. The set ended with a couple of epic covers. Oasis’ “Champagne Supernova” was the real crowd pleaser! Beck Black joined the band for Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams.”

Beck Black

Beck Black photo by Jessica Klausing

Beck Black photo by Jessica Klausing

The lovely and fierce Beck Black performed a special set. Ms. Black’s music is bluesy punk with a whole lotta soul! Minus drummer Adam Alt, Beck proves that she could still hold her own. Her commanding stage presence will pull you in if her seductive vocals haven’t already.

“Life's a Circus” brought out plenty of carefree attitude. Beck would playfully leap from guitar monitor to guitar monitor effortlessly. She would even drop and roll on the floor without missing a beat! Beck commands attention in “Vampires Come out at Night” with the sultry lyric, “Vampires come in the dark/when you light up a spark/they bite, they suck, your energetic blood.”

Corey Feldman and The Angels

Corey Feldman and The Angels photo by Jessica Klausing

Corey Feldman and The Angels photo by Jessica Klausing

Midnight struck when Corey Feldman and The Angels finally took stage. Due to a technical issue, Corey’s set had to be cut short for curfew. Corey didn’t seem too fazed. He spent several minutes chatting amicably with his fans from onstage. The set officially started about ten minutes later. Corey channeled his inner Michael Jackson with a bold red, black, and silver colored jacket and dark shades. His angels wore white lingerie with brightly lit up wings and neon glowing shoes. The performance itself was simply mesmerizing to watch. Maybe it was all those Christmas tree-esque lights?

The band opened with the iconic “Take a Stand,” in which Corey advises us, “We need peace (right now)/We need love (somehow)/The world is not full of clouds/Let the sun shine down.” The next song, “Walk” featured Corey on guitar. “It’s So Simple” was another inspiring pop song about making the world a better place. For the closer, Beck Black and the Mariachi band joined Corey for a Beatles cover of “Come Together,” dedicated to Mexico.  If you have never seen a former child star, scantily clad women, and a Mariachi band perform a Beatles song, then you have not experienced Los Angeles!

Corey Feldman and The Angels perform "Come Together" photo by Jessica Klausing

Corey Feldman and The Angels perform "Come Together" photo by Jessica Klausing

I gotta admire Corey for his optimism.  I’ll admit that his band concept may be a bit too whimsical. If tongue-in-cheek performances offend you then stay away from a Corey Feldman and The Angels show! However, beyond the “over-the-top” theatrics, his music does spread a positive message. Our world seems more obsessed with hatred than ever. With all the negativity going around, it’s a bit refreshing to hear songs about love and helping one another. Honestly, I think this world could benefit from more Corey Feldman and The Angels.