An Evening with Aloe Blacc at the Echoplex

Jan 16, 2011 by Lihi Raviv

Today’s story is the first, but not the last, that we are fortunate to have from our newest intern, Lihi Raviv, who is covering art, fashion, music, and anything else that’s she finds cool and interesting. Our world traveling and talented new intern, is an “old soul,:” full of wisdom and talent that belie her youth. With that said, the following is Lihi’s sharing of her evening spent with the musician, Aloe Blacc. To learn more about Lihi’s background, you can read it on Travelin’ Local’s “Our Writers” section at the top of our homepage.

An Evening with Aloe Blacc at the Echoplex

On a cold December Friday night, despite the harsh weather, the line in front of the Echoplex was dragging around the corner, packed with dozens of people who were ready to get their groove on. Some unlucky, ticketless fans tried to negotiate with the security guards or alternatively, buy any leftover tickets from anyone that was selling any were out of luck–the show was sold out.

Everyone standing in line were waiting for the doors to open, and the air was rife with delicious anticipation for the evening’s show to start.

Inside, the place was packed with Aloe Blacc fans who came to drink, dance and get their body-n’-soul fix.

Aloe Blacc, a California native, has been around the local Los Angeles scene for many years as an underground MC / rapper, but it was the hit single “I Need a Dollar” that launched Blacc’s career to its well deserved-new heights.

His hit song was chosen as the theme song for the HBO series of the same. The song was an instant modern soul classic as well as a desperate cry for hope in these troubled times.

“I Need a Dollar” has such an enormous uplifting effect, that when you listen to it, you practically forget what the song is about. It’s one of life’s ironies that such a serious song is the mainstay that accompanies this huge TV smash hit. But then again, it’s also part of its charm.

Musically speaking, Aloe Blacc is a “Soul” artist, who has a knack for combining both beautiful melodies with empowering lyrics. His debut album “Shine Through” (Stones Throw Records), is a beautiful personal musical statement that has been previously described as “Future Soul.”

The album was entirely produced and played by Blacc himself, and provides a forum for Blacc to show off his musical chops–which spans the range for this talented musician to display both his multi-faceted abilities, and to showcase Blacc’s grasp, mastery and musical repertoire of talent—with genres ranging from Latin to Hip Hop and everything in between.

Currently, Blacc’s musical efforts are focused in an entirely different direction. His excellent songwriting is still in full force, but his current album is more coherent and focused. Recorded in Brooklyn, it’s produced and backed by his phenomenal soul back-up crew, “Truth and Soul.”

“Good Things,” is all about the present; and it’s not a very pleasant one. Its songs are wrapped in soulful reminisces of many of the 70’s greatest albums–including those by Marvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield–which really are about our current socioeconomic landscape in America, post Wall Street meltdown.

Like his musical icons and heroes, Aloe Blacc chooses to use his velvet voice to tell stories of depression, joblessness and struggle. Listening to “Good Things” is a growing experience which both unfolds gloomy days with mellow tones.

At the Echoplex show, Aloe Blacc arrived on stage around midnight–dressed in a tuxedo–to the sound of “I Need a Dollar”. Accompanied by his band, the Grand Scheme and three backup singers, he gave an electrifying, tour-de-force performance. The crowed reacted with enthusiasm to each of his numbers, especially after he invited everyone to join his Church of love and happiness.

According to Blacc, his Church doesn’t discriminate and welcomes every race, gender and class with love and promotes individual and global happiness. During his performance, he later asked the crowd to show their love and hug the person next to them as he introduced his song, “You Make Me Smile.”

During one point of the concert, Blacc invited the crowd to board the soul train–and many happily obliged.

The room then split into two with a long row of people dancing their ways down the aisle. He later preformed soul cover versions of Michael Jackson’s, “Billie Jean;” Bob Marley’s, “No Women No Cry;” and the Velvet Underground’s, “Femme Fatale.”

Aloe Blacc’s greatest ability is to wrap little pieces of reality alongside his soulful hooks that stay with you long after the lights are dimmed, or if you’ve just finished listening to one of his songs.

That night, after leaving Blacc’s Church of Love and Happiness at the Echoplex, any previous bitter sweet feelings and sentiments were left behind, and made much more bearable by this venerable and soulful musician.

And just as Blacc promised, he made people smile.

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Entertainment, Los Angeles, Music, SoCal
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