I moved to L.A. because of my love of music, so of course I already went to my first concert. There was no way in hell that I would miss the chance to see Plini and Nick Johnston live at The Roxy on the Sunset Strip.
Before I permanently left New Jersey I made a point to buy every album that Nick and Plini have ever put out. You know – just in case my finances got hit during this move. I have my priorities straight.
Another band that I bought everything from before moving here was Animals as Leaders – more on that later.
I won’t be detailing the set list because I’m not google. I’m here to talk about what it was like to actually go to this show.
I got there later than I wanted to and so my biggest regret is that I missed Mike Dawes who happened to perform at this particular show. This guy is amazing. Just look at this shit:
He reminds me a bit of Jon Gomm but has a completely unique point of view that makes you feel like your face just got stampeded sideways by a metric ton of bears or something. I can’t explain it. Watch the video because wow, guys. I am going to be following his work and getting his album. I’m definitely going to be in the audience at the next show of his that I can get to.
I arrived right when Nick Johnston went on. Holy shit, guys.
The thing about Nick’s work is that his phrasing and melodic composition is always strong, but his most recent album, Remarkably Human is his best work to date. He has Gavin Harrison on drums and Bryan Beller on bass for the album but they aren’t touring with him.
Remarkably Human really transcends way past the combo bonus of it’s parts. I think that a key to this is because of (I think it was) co-producer Scott Giffin’s addition of the piano into the mix which REALLY compliments Nick’s melodies. The reason why is that it’s unexpected. I’d have NEVER thought a piano would add much to an instrumental guitar album, but it does. It creates such an appropriate atmosphere without sacrificing Nick’s impact or authenticity.
The live show is just as good if not better than the album.
You can imagine how happy I was when Bryan Beller actually came out as a surprise guest for 2 of my favorite songs. He’s one of my favorite bassists because his style is extremely expressive and just petulantly joyful. He’s able to hold together any song no matter how chaotic and combative the rest of the composition is, yet somehow still makes space to play around. He handles the job but maybe will tie your ear dick to a flaming T-Rex when you aren’t looking is basically what I mean.
Plini’s work is, in my opinion, the type of music that can grab your central nervous system and rewrite its programming faster than a kick to the ladysack. He’s able to tell stories with sound that transport you elsewhere in unconventional ways that adhere to your spine. The sounds he chooses to work with and how they are put together are a bit different than the usual. I’d argue he sorta created his own genre. His work tends to feel like it transfixes you into the world it lives in. It’s uniquely calming and powerful, which is a hard balance to achieve. I really enjoyed Handmade Cities.
I was not sure how that would translate live.
Spoiler: It worked. Very well.
Not only did the live execution of the songs work, but I thought it was a nice touch to have the audience do the vocal part at the end of Every Piece Matters:
But that wasn’t all. Jake Howsam Lowe from The Helix Nebula was the second guitarist.
I’ve been following Jake’s work for a while now ever since I heard his solo on ibuiltthesky’s The Sky is Not the Limit album on YouTube, which I also bought. (Notice a pattern?)
I recall listening to it being like “Ok this is simple ok…whoa wait…FUCK SHIT FUCK WHAT GOD HOLY. SHIT.” Jake can just drive you anywhere with his work and you may or may not want to go but you’ll go either way. Because Hell Yes.
I needed to take a second to calm down after he punted me out of the 36th floor of a skyscraper with that one.
This show was amazing! Holy shit, you guys. Apparently everyone in Los Angeles came out on this night – even Javier Reyes from Animals as Leaders and Brendon Small were there.
You can imagine how I nearly shat out the window and vomited out of my eyeballs when Tosin Abasi and from Animals as Leaders came out at the end to jam.
I had been totally gutted awhile back when I couldn’t make it to see Animals as Leaders live because I was preparing to exit New Jersey. I’ve been following AAL ever since I discovered Tempting Time on YouTube awhile back. What is that? 5/4? 19/16? 23/16? ALL OF THEM?
I’m going with, “All of them.” Tosin is one of those guitarists that just makes you want to practice. A lot. And then some more.
After a major life change, Los Angeles just reached out and made it clear to me that it was going to welcome me. This is where I belong. This is where the music that I like lives. I’m free to study and become the musician I always wanted to become without reproach. It’s all up to me now.
I stayed up until almost 3AM drinking in the Rainbow room in some bizarre alternate universe with, like, 80% of the musicians I listen to and who inspire me to study to be the best guitarist and vocalist that I can be. I met so many cool people and they even saw fit to let me backstage where I basically just talked about dicks and butts a lot. (The usual. You know. I keep it real so no one gets confused.)
The next day I practiced for hours after I woke up wondering if this was actually real life or was this like some bizarre dream that ends in a David Hasselhoff parody comprised of chipmunks like the last dream I had.
Answer: I did not see the Hoff so I guess it was real.
The only thing that I have left to say is: Yes, they are all phenomenal live and they are super sweet guys. The Plini / Nick Johnston tour may be the best tour of the year. You should not miss this one. The Los Angeles show was something super special way beyond what anyone could have imagined. When I left for L.A. I wasn’t sure what I’d do with this blog. But I know now that it’s time to refocus myself here onto what has always been the most important thing in my life ever since 5 year old me heard Van Halen, Judas Priest, and Iron Maiden for the first time.
I have so much to share with you about my new life and adventures in SoCal. Just you wait until I get back from running PotterVerse. :)
SEE THIS TOUR!
Oni Hartstein is a Los Angeles-based CMO and entrepreneur that is obsessed with progressive rock / metal, marketing, and nightlife. Please direct all business inquiries or review requests to the "Contact" tab on the top nav bar.
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