Friday, January 3, 2014

Allen Stone @ World Cafe Live, Philadelphia PA 09/27/12

It is not too often that I hear an artist and immediately run out to see them in concert.  Allen Stone is the exception.

I hadn't heard of him or heard his music.  There was just a photo.  A photo that kept popping up on Music streaming sites like Rdio, Lastfm and Spotify.   The photo was so intriguing I was curious.  He looked like a hippy version of Garth from Wayne's World.

I thought it was an odd choice for a promo shot but I guess it served its purpose.  I went to YouTube and played the first video that I could find.  I was not prepared for what I heard next.

 I was expecting some sort of hipster, indie music.  Instead I was treated to soulful voice not seen since the likes of Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye.  This video was shot in his mother's living room so that he would have a performance tape for booking TV appearances.  It was killer!  I immediately went to Spotify and listened to his Self-Titled Debut on his own Sticky Stones Records.

This is pretty amazing stuff from a rural, small town, Washington State son of a preacher.  The lyrics are smart, soulful, and politically charged reminiscent of 70's Motown and Philly Soul. Speaking of Philly Soul, I next watched Allen's appearance on  Live at Daryl's House, which is Daryl Halls monthly live performance webcast.  A must see and worth watching if you have never seen the show.

After all of this I was hooked.  I had just started following local music venues on Facebook and that same day it was announced that Allen Stone would be playing the World Cafe Live in Philadelphia, PA.  These tickets were a birthday present as well.  Gotta love Birthdays.

I have never been to World Cafe Live.  The owner, Hall Real, was a fan of the show World Cafe on WXPN.  He felt that show was what the clubs were missing, smart talented artists in an adult oriented environment without the distractions, smoky rooms and poor line of sight.  WXPN, which is owned by The University of Penn was looking for a new studio at the time and they partnered to create this venue, restaurant, and studio.  It is located right at the University in a safe location with secure parking.

Tickets were only $12 of $15 for reserved balcony seating.  Balcony seating is the way to go.  Reserved seating in the front of the balcony and there are reserved tables and a bar behind the seats for dinner before or during the show where you can watch and eat.  The views are great and the sound is better.  Not a bad menu and beer selection to boot.

There were two opening acts.  The first being Tingsek, who is a Swedish born Singer songwriter.  His performance was very good.  He offered to the crowd that if you could not afford to buy his Cd's that he would sell them for whatever you could afford.  He was more concerned with getting his music in our hands.

Allen Stone is a fan of Tingsek.  We realized how true this was when we looked over and saw him standing near us in the balcony enjoying the show.  I couldn't resist following him outside to get an autograph. A security guard was keeping concert goers out of the balcony section but Allen asked to let them in to get autographs as well.  He was very humble and personable.  I was surprised at how tall he was and he was not nearly as nerdy as his photos make him seem.  I think he plays up that look.

The next act was Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds.  They are an 8 piece soul/rock band out of Brooklyn with a female lead singer.  They reminded me of a female version of The Black Crows.  They filled the stage well and sounded great.  I find myself listening to them quite often now.  I would highly recommend them.

Finally, the moment I had waited for, Allen Stone!!!!

He came out dressed very much like his picture and sounded incredible.  A sound and a stage presence like this ins't developed overnight.  It is honed from days and days on the road playing night after night.  That is how Allen has built his reputation.  Playing great shows and being on the road endlessly.

He played everything that you would want to hear from him include Sleep.  This is video that I shot with my iPhone.

Included in his set were an acoustic set which featured the non album track Killing Time.  You can find this song on Band Camp.  I know love this song!!!

He also performed a cover of Bob Marley's 'Is This Love?'.  I shot this video also.

This was truly a great night.  Great food, great venue, great music, unbelievable show!  Allen did not disappoint.  I purchased a tour shirt and he was at the merchandise booth signing autographs.  His autograph is on the wall with the rest of my collection.

 Would I see him again?  HELL YEAH!!!  His new album is coming in 2014.  With his touring schedule I am not sure where he found the time to write and record.  I will leave you with this preview.

See you at the next show.


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