Artists: Beabadoobee, Christian Leave, BLACKSTARKIDS
Venue: The Fonda Theater
Date: November 21, 2021
The next wave of alternative music swept in strongly this last Sunday night at the Fonda Theater, as young UK rocker Beabadoobee played her second night for a sold out crowd in Hollywood. With her were two up-and-coming acts that the energized crowd welcomed with fervent glee.
First act was our recent Bad Ass Break-Outs BLACKSTARKIDS, and I felt even more vindicated in dubbing that title upon them after seeing them live. Coming on stage lined up, the trio of The Babe Gabe, TyFaizon, and Deiondre (and joined by Jack on drums and JP on keyboard) brought a huge, hype-filled A-game to the stage, running through catchy rockers, fiery punk songs, smooth indie pop and knock-out hip hop. During “Frankie Muniz”, the group had the whole audience waving hands in the air, and worked them up to a frenzy for “Revolt Syndrome”. Finale “Time Flies When You’re Having Fun” was an endearing mix of fun and heart. I wouldn’t be surprised if the next time the group comes to LA, they are headlining the venue.
This was a hard act to follow. I wasn’t familiar with next act Christian Leave, but a good portion of the audience seemed to be and were generous with their applause and love for the young indie rocker. Flanked by Henry on lead guitars and Bill on bass (with Seth behind on drums), Leave did his best to keep the crowd warmed up, though the results were mixed. Leave was best when he was engaged with his band, rocking out on guitar alongside Henry (who had the strongest stage presence), or interacting with the audience. While singing, he seemed more stiff, and his vocals couldn’t quite carry up to the balcony where I was watching. Perhaps a better mix that brought down the guitars and raised up his vocals would have suited him better, but it may also just be that (similar to acts like Dashboard Confessional), he’s built better to perform in more intimate venues. Still, with his closing song, which moved from chill shoe gaze to a loud blast of rock n’ roll noise, the band seemed to be having a blast and that energy carried over to the audience.
While Beabadoobee is best known for the sample of her song “Coffee” in Powfu‘s mega-hit “Death Bed”, she’s clearly built a loyal audience all on her own (especially among young female fans, who she is clearly a worthy idol for). On stage, Bea was just as comfortable wielding a guitar and banging out grunge rockers like “Care” (which received a huge amount of enthusiasm from the audience), “Sorry” and “Back to Mars” as she was picking up the mic and moving around the stage belting out infectious indie pop tracks like “He Gets Me So High”.
I have little doubt that if Kurt Cobain were still around, he would be a fan. Beabadoobee‘s heaviest songs still showed off a lyrical prowess; diary poetry that felt deeply personal and clearly connected with her audience. Thankfully, Bea never wallowed in an over-serious stage persona, sharing a passionate kiss with her bass player following “She Plays Bass”, and after encouraging the audience to throw gifts on stage (an assortment of flowers, stuffed animals and ping pong balls followed), she joked when finding a copy of Shakespeare in the pile “is this because I’m English?”
Beabadoobee ended her main set picking back up the mic and belting out the deliriously effervescent “Last Night on Earth” from her most recent EP. Making this ender a truly joyous celebration, BLACKSTARKIDS and friends rushed the stage to join in dancing with the band. It was a pure, feel-good moment that ended the set on a high note.
I would be remiss to not compliment the audience that night, who were not afraid to share love with every act, dance, wave hands and sing along loudly to the songs they knew. It was definitive proof that rock music still connects and is no where close to dying out as long as their are young, dynamic new performers like the ones on stage this night.