This past Monday was not just a typical weekday at the Bootleg Theater. A night chock full of talented musicians was to commence, set up on the back of Vietnamese-American artist SAÍGO and his four-week Bootleg residency.
Walking on stage with a beer in one hand, opener Alexander Vincent greeted the small, but supportive crowd that had gathered with a spirited, “What’s good?” After years of touring as a drummer for the band Magic!, the Toronto native decided it was time to let his own voice be heard. This was his first time on stage as a solo act, and the crowd was packed with friends and family, including his parents who had flown in for the show. Vincent’s set was full of sweeping electronic music, backed by live drums and guitar. With an intimacy that was well suited to the Bootleg, Vincent crooned emphatically into the microphone for songs like “I Won’t” and his upcoming single “Same Love.” Halfway through the set, Vincent admitted, “I’m nervous as fuck right now!,” adding to the air of humility and gratitude that he exuded.
Following Vincent was Australian musician Georgi Kay, who took the stage solo with just a laptop and a couple of electronic music pads. Beginning her musical career as a guitarist, Kay has since moved into the world of electronic music, racking up awards and nominations and producing everything from international dance hits to television theme music. Despite her minimal instrumentation, Kay’s performance was animated and full of personality as she bounced between the microphone and the synth pads. Introducing the song “God Complex,” she quipped with a wry smile, “This song is about being young and wanting to bang everything.” Kay played through her well known singles “Guilty Pleasures” and “Scary People,” and ended the set with an extended play of her unreleased song “Lone Wolf.”
Reminiscing on the past month of his Bootleg residency, SAÍGO expressed immense gratitude for those who had shared the stage with him as he took the stage. He launched into a set of soulful electronic R&B, reminding the crowd before each song that his music was written for a greater purpose. Introducing the track “Who Will Rescue You?,” he explained, “This song is about willful ignorance,” in regards to climate change. Viewed through the lens of funky, dance worthy beats, SAÍGO’s message was clearly represented: open up your mind, love one another, and fight for change. To close out his set, he was joined by a friend on trumpet who provided a jazzy coda with a dexterous horn solo. Watching the end of his own set from the crowd, SAÍGO put an arm around his father, who had spent the night beaming with pride at everyone around him.
Closing out the evening for the late night crowd was Dana and the Wolf, who performed a stripped-down set that showcased their raw talent. Having met in college in Chicago, the pair made the move to Los Angeles years ago, only recently deciding to create music together. Lead singer Dana Hobson’s powerful belt blew away the lingering crowd on songs like “Another Friend” and “Close Enough.” The pair filled the room with their genuine eagerness, remarking about how excited they were to play each song. As a finale, they gave a preview of upcoming work with their unreleased single “Lie to Me.”
The positive energy that pulsed through the small venue throughout the night was something to behold. The crowd, full of friends, family, and fans, showed nothing but support for each act, cheering and loudly calling out encouragements as the bands opened up on the intimate stage. The effect was a warm buzz that followed us out into the cold February night and spirited us home through our sleeping city.