It almost goes without saying that live music should be fun. Obviously the occasion arises when you’ll go see sad acts like Elliott Smith or Lykke Li and indulge in your woes, but more often than not you’re looking for a night of amusement rather than anguish.
And the final night of Allen Stone and Jessica Childress’ three-night concert series at the famed Troubadour was fun as hell.
Vocalist Jessica Childress opened the show, but perhaps a more fitting phrase would be “amped the crowd.” Jumping and whining across the stage, Childress charged the audience with excitement, as much for her own character as her vocal talent. Underneath huge hair and between huge hoops emerged a huge voice, one that evoked Kimbra’s belt with a bit of Kelis’ husk. And this grand voice possessed a personality to match, Childress holding back nothing in demanding our attention: “Y’all can dance, DAMN!” The fusion of full-mouthed vocals and in-your-face charisma made Childress a bombshell to watch, a performer who elicits laughs, dance, and wonder. “My intentions are just bad enough to be good” she sang, but they weren’t just good, they were fantastic.
Offsetting Childress’ bouncing vigor was Allen Stone’s sensual groove, a perfect transition into a two-hour jam session of celebration and self-love: “This song I wrote for all the beautiful ladies in the audience…and you are all beautiful.” His voice soared amidst bright lights and brighter sounds; supported by an all-star team of guitarists, rhythm section, and horns (nice to see you too, Kamasi Washington), he lifted spirits higher than you would think possible in this turmoil we call the year 2016. Instead of seeming distant, Allen’s presence onstage felt more like he was standing right next to you, arm over your shoulder and inviting you to join the jamboree. During a time where divisions in opinion divide us on so much, it warmed the soul to see that some things, and some people, remain capable of mending them while reminding us how fun togetherness can be.