ASTR Live at The Troubadour

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.

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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.

Bernhoft LIVE at Troubadour

The line was out the door and down the block for the international sensation, Bernhoft, last night in Los Angeles. Where West Hollywood ends and Beverly Hills begins, there is a gem of a venue known as The Troubadour, where hundreds filled the sidewalks waiting for their chance to witness what many had only witnessed on YouTube.

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Jarle Bernhoft, known on the music scene as “Bernhoft”, won worldwide attention when he posted a video of his original composition “Cmon Talk” on YouTube  in 2011. Singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist from Norway, Bernhoft’s one-man show has garnered almost 4 million views on this video alone.

The floor of the Troubadour was packed with trendy youth by the time A2D: According to Drea veteran Brandyn Burnette reached the stage to perform songs from his upcoming EP “The Couch Surfing Chronicles” (to be released Fall 2014 by Warner Brothers Records). Burnette expertly set the tone of the show, leaving the audience primed for more outstanding music.

When it was time for Bernhoft to take the stage, the lights dimmed, and a chant from the crowd arose: “Bernhoft! Bernhoft! Bernhoft!”, and out came the performer in his signature hipster glasses that YouTube fans have come to adore. Dressed in black jeans and a plain, black cotton shirt, Bernhoft presented himself with the attitude that his music was the focal point of the show, and encouraged the audience to pay full attention to his musical lineup.

Seated atop a mini-stage, surrounded by two keyboards, two acoustic guitars, a ukulele, two microphones, soundboards, and a number of pedals, Bernhoft began his set with his new song “Wind You Up”, which released in funky music video form last month.

Reminiscent of the style of two-time Grammy award nominee Imogen Heap, who also is known for her live mixing performances, Bernhoft blasted through his set with charm and pristine execution. His vocal range, bluesy guitar solos, and mixing precision left the crowd amazed, while the artist’s beats and lyrics set the audience into constant motion.

“Cmon Talk” of course came out the crowd favorite, but Bernhoft’s acoustic performances of “Hold On” and “Stay With Me”, performed on guitar and keys, respectively, brought a hush in the room that spoke of the captivating elements of Bernhoft’s performance. Whether mixed in great detail or stripped down, Bernhoft’s songs have the strong musical foundation to stand on their own, and imprint themselves in the minds and hearts of all who listen.

Bernhoft’s new album “Islander” will be available in the US on June 23rd. A special preview of the album is available exclusively at USAToday.com.

For more on Bernhoft, and for links to his social media, please visit www.bernhoft.org.

Check out “Cmon Talk“, the video that made Bernhoft a YouTube sensation.

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.