Chinatown Summer Nights, Saturday July 28th 2018
These Chinatown Summer Nights are very long events, and while KCRW DJs Mathieu Schreyer and Anthony Valadez were animating Chinatown’s Central Plaza last Saturday night, no more than 7 bands played on the Live Music Stage, which was curated this time by Kensington Presents: La Louma, Cosmos & Creature, Krys Wright, Iconique, Hamish Anderson, Rosehardt, Inspired and The Sleep…, and I managed to see 4 of them between 6 and 10 pm
It started with the electro-synth-pop songs of Cosmos & Creature, played by a cute duo, Brandyn Burnette and Molly Moore, who entertained the early crowd with bouncy and catchy music filled with their soulful boy-girl harmonies. Their recently-released tune, ‘I am Free’, was a heartfelt pop song with a light and catchy melody, but they brought up a full range of emotions during their inspiring set. Their upbeat to melancholic tunes were R&B to soul inspired, with a touch of hip hop production and remarkably hooky choruses, while every line was delivered with poignancy and some yearning in their young voices…. Moore had previously a #1 hit on the ITunes dance chart with ‘Peace of My Heart’, a song from her 2015 debut album ‘Shadow of the Sun’, while Burnette’s achievements include writing credits for Hedley’s ‘Kiss You Inside Out’, which got a Juno Award Nomination for single of the year. Combining these two creative minds together should be a win-win combination, and their collaboration seemed to be about pursuing a dream, as Burnette told us he gave up his NYU full scholarship to do what he loves. They were mixing an organic vibe coming straight from the heart, with electronica, and one thing is sure, beside the melodies, these two were making smooth dance moves, showing a real chemistry. Things seem to go very well for the young duo as their song ‘I Am Free’ reached 5 million streams on Spotify, and ‘Young’ is almost at 4 million, while they have piled an impressive 36 million collective streams for their music.
The next performer, Krys Wright sang a soulful set, adventuring between blues and smooth jazz, with a R&B-inspired set delivered with a classy look and plenty of style. Of African American and Korean decent, she was a really pretty face with a powerhouse and a charming stage presence, blending a classic Diana Ross big hair glamor with soothing vocals. Her band certainly put the right amount of funk into her dancefloors, while she vocalized with a bright voice above the music. Wright has already sung all over the world: born in Germany, she blew away the audience at the high school graduation in Busan, South Korea, and had since performed in Europe, Asia, Middle East and had residencies at the Cosmopolitan Hotel Las Vegas ‘Book & Stage’. Most of her set had a real old-school aura, and a very sensual vibe, but her seductive aura got funkier as her set progressed with tracks habited by a real soul dance party.
I only like disco when it’s gay and over the top, and the band Iconique has truly understood that. Above everything, these queens of the dancefloor took the diva side of disco very seriously, as frontman Leo Paparella had the most incredible operatic howls since Freddie Mercury! The music revisited funk with dynamic drums, synth and disco steps, while Paparella was commanding the stage with bravado and plenty of theatricality, dancing at the sound of Chic-inspired tempos made by guitarist and keyboardist Eric Promani and Greg Promani. It took him some long minutes to make a costume change as he suddenly disappear to leave his elegant blue suit (coming with a Phantom of the Opera cape) to slip into some fantastic strawberry tight pants, but it was worth it, and there was no doubt that their Donna Summer-Gloria Gaynor-Freddie-Mercury inspiration via a Nile Rodgers funk had given a Saturday Night fever to the crowd. But the most surprising part certainly was Paparella’s vocal prowess, which would have made Prince sound like a baritone.
I also caught Australian singer-songwriter Hamish Anderson, who played a blues from Melbourne with great technique, plenty of style and a ‘60s to ‘70s flavor,… he even covered the Beatles’ ‘She Said. This is someone who has joined B.B. King on tour, and after several EPs and an album, ‘Trouble’, released 2 years ago, he has already made a name for himself. As a matter of fact, Gary Clark, Jr. has called him ‘the young act under 30 to look out for’, and you don’t need to listen to him for very long to understand why. The album was produced and engineered by Jim Scott (Tom Petty, Grace Potter, Wilco, etc.) and the songs he did had smooth grooves, melancholic melodies and a sort of Southern accent a la Petty (even more obvious on the recorded version) despite the musician’s Australian origins. All set long, he was not the type to swell his bluesy riffs into violent outbursts, as he played with a rather restrained manner and a humble attitude.
There is an overwhelming amount of new bands and artists to discover every day, I find them one by one… sometimes 4 at the time, and sooner or later, I will eventually cover all of them.