Allen Stone in Boulder
I decided to dedicate my Halloween not to the typical young adult shenanigans, but to, in the middle of a harrowing week of work, seek some food for the soul. The moment I finished polishing the last plate at work, I bounded on my bike and coasted through the Boulder streets swarming with Frodos, nurses, Jokers, and all assortments of bizarre creatures, up to the Fox Theatre. I have always enjoyed Halloween not so much for the traditional reasons, but for the ludicrous expressions of the self-conscious and utter inability of anyone to take himself or herself seriously. Some people, I think, are more themselves on Halloween than any other day of the year. Seeing Allen Stone, I have come to realize, was thus most appropriate for Halloween.
I will, of course, rave about the music in a second, as this is a concert review per se. I was most struck by was Stone’s charisma. He strutted, bounded, gyrated, and glided across the stage, and swung his arms with the emphatic downbeats like some crazy R&B conductor. He had tremendous respect for his intro acts, the second of which was a jaunty Swedish guitarist with the enviable name, Magnus Tingsek. Allen Stone emanated positivity, joking about people in the audience who were still sternly crossing their arms, and kept addressing the crowd as Boulder Colorado in a cheeky affectionate way.
His band is extraordinarily tight. The lead guitarist opened with the Good, the Bad, and The Ugly riff, then transitioned smoothly into the keyboard line for “Living for the City,” and then launched into their first song, an energetic blend of Soul, Funk, and R&B. The show was a liminal sensation of building energy from that point forward. The only concert I can really compare it to was seeing Stevie Wonder in Denver. It is difficult to get me to dance, I almost have to get tricked into it, but I danced like a hellion at the Allen Stone concert. I think if there had been a GoPro recording my face it would have simply shown me grinning in silly elation for two hours.
He played an R&Bified version of “Is this Love” by Bob Marley, and even did a acoustic solo version of “Sex and Candy,” which left me wishing someone in Marcy Playground had a good voice; Stone made it sound like an affectionate ballad. Coming out of this interlude, each of the musicians got a solo. The bassist, sporting a fuzzy Russian hat pulled out a couple minutes of nasty stinky groove, the lead guitarist cranked out a solid funk-infused jam, and then their drummer pounded out a solo that bounded back and forth across the line from virtuous to just straight up vicious and vigorous. He also had two keyboardists, one of whom was sporting a mullet that for some reason made him look like Jack Black, and who was pounding Corona lights the whole concert and at the encore spat water into the air like a dolphin. The last song of the encore was “Unaware,” which describes my knowledge of Allen Stone two weeks ago. It is a tender lament of hard economic times that Stone belts out with what feels like the full force of his soul. Stone and his band clearly have the energy of a crew in the middle of the crashing vigor of making it big.
The concert ended just before midnight, after about a four-hour steady infusion of music. True music elevates the mundane making the day-to-day tolerable, maybe even making it mean something. I am facing the rest of my grueling week of work with a feeling of transcendence and equanimity. Stone’s concert was an infusion of life.
post by David Manning