I really thought Wednesday night was going to be the night that my best friend would usher new life into this world. I was excited but also a bit bummed as I was super excited for the show that I had on the docket for the evening. I know, as does she, that I would drop nearly anything to do whatever she needed but, after checking in with her before making my journey to the Varsity Theater on Wednesday, she assured me that she and her husband were all set and she would call me if anything changed. I hesitantly made the drive, parked and walked up to the gorgeous venue. Again, I was excited but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit worried that I was going to get a call right when the show started and would have to bail.
There was still no call or text as Nate Bergman took the stage. My mind was racing but, as soon as Nate started performing, all of those along with the stress of not knowing what to do, and the worry that my friend is completely miserable having been due last week fell by the wayside. Nate’s sound is a sound for the working class and the average human. I mean this in more ways than one. His sound just has a very blue collar vibe to it. It’s simple but so full of heart and passion that it’s like listening to fire. On top of that, his lyrics are relatable. I say it’s for the working class specifically because of his song “War on the Working Class”. The words that I caught really spoke to me and clearly spoke to the rest of the audience with the way they cheered when it was done but really, each song came with a sense of real life woes and raw feelings.
Nate came off as very sweet on stage. He admitted that he is typically full of sass, snark, and sarcastic comments but the crowd in attendance had truly taken his breath away. This is something I hear a lot of never quite believe but I believe it with Nate. He just seemed so humbled and honored by the respect that the audience gave him. In my mind, it was clear why he got the respect he did. He’s an amazing songwriter with a voice that will hook you right away. It makes me wonder how he doesn’t get that kind of reception at all of his shows but I digress. I had never heard of Nate prior to Wednesday night but, as I get to work this morning, I find myself only wanting to dig into his music as if to relive his set.
Following Nate was a personal favorite of mine, Tejon Street Corner Thieves. Does that name sound familiar? It should! I have covered this group a couple of times, most recently when they opened for The Dead South at The Palace Theatre last August. Like that night, this group came in the form of a trio but don’t let that fool you, this trio has so much energy and a true spice to them that it’s quickly forgotten that there is not a traditional drumset on stage to pair with the bass, guitar, and banjo sounds. Instead of a standard drumkit, vocalist/ banjo player Connor O’Neal uses his feet to stomp on pedals to add that bass drum sound. Beyond that, this band doesn’t need much else as far as percussion goes because, well, there’s already so much sound happening.
Name one band that can go from a banjo cover of the Inspector Gadget cover straight into an epic Kazoo solo. I’ll wait… Okay, obviously Tejon Street Corner Thieves is that band (because, let’s be honest, how could I even make something like that up?) and, if that doesn’t pique your interest, I truly don’t know what else I can say. Outside of the quirkiness, Tejon Street Corner Thieves is a band that has perfected whiskey-drinking songs. Much like saying Nate was a musician for the working class, I mean this in two ways. To me, a whiskey drinking song is a slow and sad song with a little country influence to it. These guys have that but their lyrics also typically revolve around, well, whiskey. It adds a twist to their music and keeps things feeling fun and almost comical at times but there’s still a depth and seriousness to this band that is hard to resist. If you haven’t gotten on the Tejon Street Corner Thieves train yet, I only have on question for you– why?
As headlining act Amigo the Devil set up on stage, I started to get nervous. Were the concert-Gods going to do me dirty, let me see two amazing opening acts but then have my friend text me right before the headliner? I watched the clock tick and said a little prayer that I was going to at least get a couple of songs in before I would receive the call. I was nervous and anxious, constantly checking my phone and my watch as if I missed a buzz, but, much like when Nate started his opening set, all of my worry and anxious energy went out the window as Amigo the Devil kicked into what would turn into a lengthy yet not long enough performance.
Like Tejon Street Corner Thieves, Amigo the Devil is a personal favorite of mine and I have covered them multiple times before. Because of this, I won’t waste your time with the backstory on Danny Kiranos (the man behind the magic) but instead will just tell you how badly you messed by not being at the show on Wednesday night.
Although a singer-songwriter styled act, Danny came complete with a backing band on Wednesday night which added a sense of depth to his already deep songs that was almost unfathomable. There was a portion of the set where Danny performed as solo which was just as deep and powerful but I really liked the band he had with him this time. Danny’s music is dark. Super dark. Most of his songs are about all things morbid from serial killers to just death in general. This is nothing new to me. Like they say, I like my music like I like my coffee– dark. But it’s the delivery of this darkness that makes Amigo the Devil such an intriguing act to watch, not just listen to.
Danny is a larger than life kind of character. From his facial expressions to just the way he holds himself, there’s something almost intimidating about him but, when he talks, you realize that he is one hell of a jokester with a sense of snark and hilarity behind him that just can not be contained. The way he sings the most sinister lines of words with a smirk on his face and the whites of eyes bright for all to see is definitely a bit creepy but it adds something a little funny about it. Okay, now that I sit here trying to write this, I realize that my words may not do this justice so I guess you’ll just have to go see it for yourself in order to really understand what I’m trying to say.
In addition to the music, one of the best things about an Amigo the Devil show is hearing the stories between songs. Whether Danny is talking about the basis of the song he just played or the one the band is about to jump into, he always seems to have a new story to share. I’ve been seeing him live for many years at this point yet I don’t think there has been any occasion where I’ve heard the same story. This just adds to the already uber personable figure that is Danny Kiranos.
Amigo the Devil played well into the night and, eventually, I stopped obsessively checking my phone. Thankfully (or unthankfully if you’re my friend), I never got the call or text last night and was able to enjoy the show without interruption. Apparently the concert-Gods were shining down on me and I couldn’t be more thankful because missing even a second of the show on Wednesday night would have been a huge bummer.
Venue: Varsity Theater
Smell-O-Meter: Nothing Notable
Average Age of the Crowd: 34
Crowd Surfers- 0
Stage Divers- 0
Mosh-ability- 4 out of 10
Amount of Beer Spilled On Me While Walking Around- 0
Broken Bones- None Noticed
Spotted Flying Through The Air- Nothing
Fights- None Witnessed
Passed Out Kids- 0
Idiots Taken Out By Security – 1
How Irritated I Was With The Audience – 0 out of 10
How Many Times I’ve Seen These Bands Before (or at least how many times I can remember)-
Nate Bergman– 0
Tejon Street Corner Thieves – 2
Amigo the Devil – 8
Celebrity Sightings – Brenda- Booking agent extraordinaire at Amsterdam Bar & Hall
Overall Score –9 out of 10
Show on Deck — Kim Petras / Alex Chapman
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