It is always a pleasure to be asked to cover a sold out show: the energy is guaranteed to be high, and in a place like The Troubadour in West Hollywood, the night will undoubtedly be a success. The Troubadour is known as one of the rare venues who truly makes a point to honor the musicians it headlines as well as the audience it draws. Subsequently, loyal music fans from across the metro and even out of state flock to the historic venue to see some of the best shows in LA, set on a small, intimate stage that makes the experience all the more memorable.
Saturday night’s show was started off by DJ Grant Owens, most popularly known as the producer and host of We Found New Music, a radio show on Laguna’s KX 93.5 which tackles the important task of bringing those new and promising acts to the forefront of its listeners’ radar. Owens, who also works at major record label Universal Music Group, began the night playing alternative, electro-pop favorites from bands like The Knocks, and nodded to upcoming act ASTR by playing their ever popular cover of Drake’s “Hold On We’re Going Home”. The DJ’s debut at Troubadour was a hit, and the perfect primer to the next act, The Black and The White.
The three man show, made up of frontman and lead guitarist Juilio Tavarez, bassist Mario Gonzalez, and longtime drummer Cliff Sarcona, stormed the stage with their incredibly playful and exuberant presence. Tavarez matched his impossibly tight pants with even tighter vocals, dancing easily between his passionate baritone and a surprisingly powerful falsetto. The band carried the energy of ensembles much larger, and louder, proving that three was all that was needed to bring an already eager audience to their feet. Backed by a psychedelic video display and surrounded by an increasingly enthusiastic audience, The Black and The White doled out a welcome overdose of music that can only be created by those who still remember and respect the art form that is musical expression. Between the three band members and the brilliant addition of backtracks towards the middle of the set, The Black and The White reminded Troubadour goers why they flock to the venue in the first place: to hear unique, powerful, and eclectic music from seasoned performers who are hungry to share their craft and create an experience with their audience.
Up next came the headlining duo from New York City, ASTR. The crowd went wild as stunning redhead and lead vocalist Zoe Silverman and producer, percussionist, and keyboardist Adam Pallin hit the stage. From the bass drop of their first song “Razor”, the crowd was screaming their appreciation and singing along. Silverman kept the crowd moving as she demonstrated her theatrical dance and performance skills, as Pallin kept the show going by captaining his production machines and electronic drum set. A dramatic duo to be sure, ASTR filled the stage with their explosive presence and heart-pumping music that bled lyrical finesse. Their visuals emphasized the retro foundation of their music, which, paired with galactic production, makes for an irresistible and addictive combination. ASTR premiered a new song at Troubadour that night, which could easily catapult the duo into mainstream success. With its catchy lyrics, use of pop and hip hop beats, and something that is undeniably ASTR, the song has all the makings of a hit. The band finished their set with their lead single “Operate”, off their debut 2014 EP “Varsity”. The crowd, already whistling and screaming at the end of every song, including a performance of the Drake cover already teased by DJ Grant Owens earlier that night, offered an uproar of applause when the duo closed on “Operate”. As DJ Pleasure Principle ascended the stairs to bring the night to a close, there was no doubt the audience had witnessed performance greatness that night.
From DJs Grant Owen and Pleasure Principle, to three-man band The Black and The White, to powerhouse duo ASTR, this night at the Troubadour proved that it doesn’t take large numbers to make a wave: a few can accomplish much when they have the passion and vision to do what the majority would never dare to do. Here’s to the few, with big dreams and bigger voices, and to the venues and organizations like Troubadour and We Found New Music who support them along their way.
Drea Dorman is a singer-songwriter and music enthusiast living in Los Angeles, CA. Learn more about Drea and her music at www.dreaofficialmusic.com.