Pulling into the venue parking lot a half-hour before the show, and only seeing five cars parked there would be worrisome to any performer; after joining the line of over one hundred girls queuing shortly after, though, any worries faded quickly. It was easy to recognize that most of the concert-goers were being dropped off by their parents. Although he turned twenty-one just last week, it’s apparent Lewis Watson’s main fan base is on the younger side, but this wasn’t going to deter me from enjoying his set.
Lewis Watson Plays Intimate Show at The Bootleg Theater in L.A.
After a bunch of elbows and glares from fellow fans, I finally found a spot inside the Bootleg Theater, conveniently beside the merchandise table. While taking a look around, I realized the venue resembled an unused art studio, with ladders being used instead of stairs, and half of the walls being boarded up with wood.
As the fans calmed down somewhat, the Santa Cruz duo The Native Sibling took the stage to open the show. Using only a guitar, a keyboard, and an unfamiliar instrument called the harmonium, the room was suddenly filled with soothing melodies and complementing harmonies. Two of my favorites they performed were “Carry You” and “Right Here” off their self-titled EP (which I made sure to snag after their set).
Shortly after, Lewis Watson casually walked up onto the small stage with a bashful smile and ponytail, which surprised many of his fans who haven’t seen his new hairdo. But that smile was momentarily replaced with frustration when Watson realized his guitar was completely out of tune. As he fixed the problem, he initiated some small-talk with the crowd, declaring that “Norms” is the greatest restaurant and the deciding factor of moving to California someday. When all was right onstage, he properly started off the set with “Once Before,” off his 2012 EP Another Four Sad Songs. The set was quite varied, taking tracks from all three of his past EPs.
While displaying shy signs of affection and surprise, it was obvious that Watson was completely taken aback by how many people in the crowd knew his songs. During certain points of “Calling” and “Bones,” he steped back and let the audience sing the lyrics out to him. He repeatedly said what an amazing feeling it was to hear the words he’s written being sung back to him in a completely different country. It was quite impressive to watch, as this is Watson’s second of two headlining shows in America, stopping only in New York and Los Angeles.
A crowd favorite was “Even If,” from Watson’s upcoming EP, Some Songs with Some Friends, featuring Gabrielle Alpin, Kimberly Anne, and Hudson Taylor. It’s very easy to see the comparisons of Watson’s sound to that of Ed Sheeran or Ben Howard, but since Watson is so young, he seems to already be ahead of the game. He’s poised to produce more great acoustic-sounding lyrical pieces to make anyone swoon.
After getting an understanding of how crazed the fans around me seemed to be, it the crowd’s turn to be surprised, as Watson asked the whole crowd to sit down and form a space for him in the middle so he could sing a cover of “Made Up Love Song #43” by Guillemots. After some adjusting, the whole crowd seemed to fall silent as Watson turned in repeated circles, making sure he made eye-contact with everyone in the crowd, as they held their phones and cameras up to catch the enchanting scene.
If you have a chance to catch a performance by Lewis Watson, be prepared for inventive lyrics, catchy chorus lines, great keyboard and jazzy drum kit implementation by the band, and silly banter that will make you feel like you’re listening to your friend play in your living room. If you stay a bit after the show, you’ll see Watson himself meeting and taking pictures with every single one of his fans, as they wait for the chance to thank him for a great show. It was hard to resist joining the throng of fans, especially after such a great performance.
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