It certainly was an “Auspicious Friday” on September 28 as Beck called it while he took the stage and warmed the crowd, opening with “Devil’s Haircut” kicking off one of the better light show/AV displays we’ve ever seen — it continuously bordered on three dimensional, from immersive animated environments to 8 bit video game scenescapes flashing across the light wrapped stage and elevated displays behind the band.
This was a penultimate stop for Beck and the group touring his latest album Colors for the previous 15 months across the globe. Los Angeles is Beck’s hometown (strongly evidenced in many of his songs, perhaps none as brilliantly as “Qué Onda Güero”). The show was a homecoming for the band as several members also hail from the City of Angels.
Beck heavily referenced the city, from anecdotes explaining the inspiration for his lyrics and mimicking The Californians from Saturday Night Live, to describing the former “Greek George” camel ranch and subsequent races that once took place near the grounds of Hollywood Bowl circa 1900. As he called it, “before Hollywood.”
This spawned a theme—both his monologues and music were incredibly self-referential, speaking, at times, profanely to the packed house of “weirdos,” cajoling the jubilant Tinseltown crowd like we were hanging out in his backyard. We were. The pleasantly informal performance perfectly fit the clear, warm, picturesque autumn night in a sturdy homage to Beck’s city of birth.
“WOW” was a mid-set highlight, especially from a visual display perspective, it being, arguably, the most meta song and video he’s ever produced. St. Vincent opened the show as (DJ) “St. Vicious,” fiercely rocking one of the most technical and dastardly DJ sets we’ve heard in a while, mashing Beastie Boys with Talking Heads, laying the groundwork for a remarkable, but otherwise loose set from Beck and company. The nearly 2-hour show spanned electro-funk-pop and gospel, folk, blues and a heartfelt “Raspberry Beret” tribute to Prince, whom Beck channeled throughout.
A surprise sit-in with gospel group and “local treasure” Fred Martin & The Levite Camp delighted the crowd. The night’s performance of “Nicotine & Gravy” appeared completely reconfigured as a mashup of the song’s many inspirations, including a live rendition of “White Lines” by Melle Mel. The theme returned at encore as Beck introduced band members soloing, evolving into full-on pop music reprises, covering everything from the Rolling Stones and Talking Heads, to New Order and Chic.
Connecting with the crowd, Beck relayed Colors is inspired by the vibrant energy he feels emanating from audiences he regularly engages, dedicating the album as a “thank you” to his fans.
He makes it obvious, “you're welcome.”