I had the opportunity to get my first taste of Sara Bareilles on a Tuesday night about a year and a half ago. I was going through a lot of shit at the time, and dragged kicking and screaming by a male friend to see this artist whose name I couldn’t even pronounce. After a few cocktails I gave into the situation and let myself relax…hell, I made my way to the front of the stage. Being an “artist” myself who has played clubs all over the place I find that I tend to be a REALLY harsh (yet honest ) critic. Especially with young girls coming out trying to “make it as a pop-star.” I was IMMEDIATELY humbled the moment she stepped on the stage and the lights softly lit her awkward stance. You could tell from the moment you saw her she was just so humble and happy to be there yet almost uncomfortable at the same time. But when she opened her mouth to sing, you could hear a pin drop. The thick molasses, velvet-toned voice coming out of this completely unsuspecting girl. It’s not the type of voice that needs any back up, any band, all this chick needs to do is sit and play her piano and sing.
FAST-FORWARD: a year and a half later. Her EP AND album have become a staple soundtrack in my life. I know every song left right and sideways, and I spread the word of her real, and relatable self to as many of my friends I thought would get it. It’s got soul and heart. her lyrics could be journal entries out of any one of our diaries.
Through that time word has traveled quickly about Ms. Sara, and her Love Song climbed the charts on Top 40 radio. I got really excited for this debutante singer/ex-waitress/UCLA student from the redwoods of NoCal, but then I got scared that her Majorness on a label would strip away everything beautiful that I saw the moment I first heard her. It was her simple beauty, her naive yet strong witty persona that sold me from the outset.
Sara played Saturday night to a sold-out audience in Los Angeles at the Wiltern Theatre; it always amazes me when I see an artist at a venue like the ROXY for 12 bux…and a little over a year later I can’t buy a ticket except from a scalper on craigslist for 50 dollar nose bleeds that go for 25 ticket price. Needless to say, I’m a fan and so I did what I had too to see the show. Her crowd was sprinkled with middle-to-late-aged men and women, a few scattered tweens, not many – mostly girls in their 20’s and the occasional SUPER-FAN BOYS (who travel ALONE) and to whom I had the wonderful luck of sitting next to.
I wasn’t aware there would be any opening acts…but soon SARA took the stage in a modest outfit consisting of jeans and a button-down blouse to tell her awaiting fans that she would have 2 “SPECIAL GUEST” acts for the evening.
Sara seems nice….watching the opening acts confirmed this to be the case. She’s perhaps TOO nice. Whoever is running her tour, seriously needs to rethink their motives and their calling in life. I mean Girl just got done touring with Maroon 5 and counting CROWS!!! HAVE SOME RESPECT!!! WHY OH WHY?!
Before I tear into the concert, may I start by saying, on their own…I am sure both these bands are amazing….but to open up for an angel…they just ruined the whole night.
Raining Jane are an eclectic all-chick rock-folk band based out of LA. Think LILITH fair. Completely. The 2 members that most impressed me were the sitar/bass player Becky who was basically stuck in a dark corner all night….and the over-powering attention-whore cajon/percussion player Mona…who once she shut up with her REALLY annoying and un-humorous attempts at humor…chick knew how to wail her instrument like a mofo. She was forgiven.
The rest of the band(vocalists Chaska and Mai) were wonderful…I just found nothing New, and Fresh, and exciting about the band. I think they would be better off playing to an audience of Birkenstock-fitted ‘Au natural’ women holding hands in the mountains of Vermont. Not at 8pm on a Saturday to a crowd screaming for a soulful pop Elton John-level crooner.
Just when I thought they may have a redeeming moment with the song PAPERCUT…I was sadly disappointed; it came off like a bad Barenakedladies rip-off. Needless to say, their set was drab and cliche. Raining Jane is really nothing out of the ordinary.
Which then brings us to JERKOFF FEST 2008!! WOOHOO! The funky soul stylings of Mark Broussard. Picture Maroon 5 meets Justin Timberlake with a body like Joey Fatone wannabe hitting the stage…but instead of an audience in front him…homey thinks he is in front of a mirror, in his shower and is screaming his songs out..as if we can’t hear him…TRUST ME BROSEF!! YOU WERE HEARD LOUD AND CLEAR!…
I get it. What he is trying to do, and I can tell deep down underneath that great big ego and goatee of his, he is a very VERY talented young man with an incredibly unique voice – but for the sake of honest critique – it did NOT show at the Wiltern on Saturday the 11th of October, 2008. (And how come his shirts were going for 10 dollars more than the headline act at the merch booth?) Mark Broussard is worth more than our headliner??? hmmmm… prolly not. Get over yourself M.B.: to be a male artist in today’s market you REALLY have to live up to a standard and WOW the living shit out of me, on ANY level…I BEG YOU!! Let’s add insult to injury and stick a Poodle-head in the way of my line of sight while Alpha male Jack Daniel’s tour wails down in front of me.
Talk about muff fest…to sausage fest. I gave him one more chance after the 2nd? 3rd? 4th song? I couldn’t really tell because he was screeching each song at such an unbearably loud and un-intimate pitch that I wasn’t aware of when one song ended and the next began. I found myself exiting the theater and following my nose to the smell of popcorn.
FINALLY!!! at 11:20 Sara hits the stage. I want to reiterate this: Sara and her piano is all she needs. I repeat. HER voice, is anything but little: it fills the room with such a delicate strength that you are captivated and completely forget the hell you had to witness in order to just hear her sing “Gravity” (which she did as an encore song.)
Although she played most of the fan favorites: “Many the Miles,” “Love Song,” and “Bottle it Up,” she also played a few others that she claimed to be her favorites and have always been ones that I pass by on my iPod. I can only sit back and wonder how this artist’s journey will unfold…and I only hope she is in the proper hands. I feel like she is an amazing asset to the music industry even if just an inspiration to girls in their 20’s…who finally have the nerve to search for self-empowerment. She is definitely an act to keep an eye on and a voice that demands attention…if only her handlers would really evaluate the proper opening acts to accentuate the show rather than take away from it…if they would cut away the excess shit…and let her shine alone. A baby grand. A spot light..maybe some percussion. Think BIG Sara: Think ELTON JOHN.
I think she will make it all right; she’s a smart cookie. Although not my favorite concert ever, I’d definitely give her a third chance.
Check out her website and video blogs for yourself:
I assure you, you will fall in love too without even trying.
Pynk Iz The New Perez is a guest writer for MusicZeitgeist.com