The day was finally here!
This past Saturday, one of the crown jewels of this year’s KCRW Summer Nights series of free events, the 2015 Sound in Focus concerts in the courtyard of the Annenberg Space for Photography in the heart of Century City, would debut, and anticipation was high, but with many questions.
Would there be a crush of rabid attendees lined up around the block? Reports were that things moved quickly & efficiently and that people were coming early to enjoy the whole evening on the lawns and in the museum spaces. But, most pressing of all, could this evening possibly stack up to previous years’ excellent shows? The answer proved to be a resounding yes!
Our fearless leader, music director Jason Bentley, led things off in appropriate fashion, setting the tone for the new few hours of musical fun and passion with the kinds of sparkling sets one has become accustomed to hearing on Morning Becomes Eclectic and Metropolis.
Before long, UK group Boxed In hit the stage, making their Los Angeles live debut. Frontman, Oli Bayston, and his bandmates are about as unassuming a group of musicians as you are likely to find, playing flawlessly while expressing their excitement for performing for the biggest crowd they’ve yet encountered. I had a chance to chat with Oli at the merch table after their set, and he’s as nice and modest as he appeared on stage. As for their music, Boxed In’s danceable new wave-flavored tunes rose and crested over a driving beat and playful keyboard licks, serving as the perfect soundtrack to the waning hours of daylight. They dedicated their single & KCRW-favorite “Mystery” to Mr. Bentley, while kindly giving me a shout-out on “All Your Love Is Gone” (well, OK, they didn’t actually say so, but in my head they did, because that’s my JAM!)
After a brief intermission where many, like myself, took advantage of the food & drink options available on site, TV on the Radio arrived and lit up the now-settled darkness with the kind of set people pay big bucks to see headline major festivals. Playing over a dozen songs that span their entire career, the band demonstrated the power and longevity of their music, bookending their main set with “Young Liars” and “Staring at the Sun” from their debut EP from 2003, and sprinkling other favorites throughout , including their most recent single, “Happy Idiot”, from their acclaimed 2014 album, Seeds. TV on the Radio is a band made up of a number of moving parts, with lead vocalist Tunde Adebimpe serving as a focal point and ringmaster for the band’s controlled chaos, and it was pretty exciting to watch it all unfold there on the Annenberg’s stage. The bursts of sounds and lights coming from the center of Century City’s skyscrapers was truly majestic, and by the time it all ended at the crack of 10pm, we could all drift home knowing we witnessed something special.
The bad news if you missed it is…well, you missed it! The good news is that this was just the first of four concerts in the weekly Sound in Focus series, so make sure to catch Quantic and De La Soul next Saturday evening, August 1, as they too are bound to make some unforgettable musical memories. See you on the lawn!