Wednesday, November 28, 2007

jose gonzalez @ the henry fonda

It is a well-known fact that things taste better when obtained for free. More importantly, though, is of course the matching theorem: music sounds better when it’s free. A big thank you to KCRW and to my fellow Would-Be Hipster who won the tickets and then promptly ditched us to lie on her cootie filled deathbed1.

I discovered Jose Gonzales in the most organic way possible… a recommendation and an invitation from a friend, only a few hours before seeing him live. I was in France, it was six months before his debut Veneer would reach stateside, thus for once making me cool simply by being at the right place at the right time. Proof positive lightening doesn’t strike twice. The show was a veritable Scandinavian smorgasbord, opened by Norway’s Ane Brun, and closed by Mugison from Iceland. Jose, representing Sweden, was sandwiched in the middle, a filling that was pure love. Or more correctly, it's introspective auditory equivalent. Parked at the merch table after the show, I frantically chased my dwindling supply of Euros around the bottom of my purse and bought a copy of Veneer.

With the new album, the beautiful In Our Nature, some may argue all Jose’s music is a guy with a guitar, that he's unable to evolve due to the simplistic limitations of his genre. To them I say, first of all, you're really stupid for putting such a high premium on evolution. Secondly, I'll agree. Yes, Jose does fall victim to the "guy with a guitar" least occasionally. But he’s a guy with a guitar and enough raw emotion and passion to take down an elephant -- provided said elephant had just gone through a painful breakup or was feeling particularly hormonal.

Live, Jose and his guitar are an emotional powerhouse. Although beautiful, and well crafted beyond fault, music isn't the main focus. With closed eyes and low soft voice, Jose takes the viewer on a journey, questioning the nature of love, devotion, and inherent human goodness (or lack of). The addition of percussionists on this tour only seems to drive home his more biting statements. Jose may be an artist whose music is a work of beauty, but he's also experienced the darker, heartbroken side of life. It's this dichotomy that drives his work and leaves the concert attendee not commenting on the show but considering himself.

With music personalized to the listeners' personal paradigms, it seems only appropriate that these epiphanies should take place on a darkened stage, the spotlight serving as a ghostly back light for Jose's profile. Jose is master of the auditory experience. Visuals? Now that's up to you. But don't worry. While not exactly deep2, we've got an amazing visual accompaniment to get you jump started.

1. Stay strong our fallen partner in geekdom!
2. We're called the "Would-Be Hipsters" ...what exactly were you expecting?

mp3: "Hand On Your Heart (Live)" by Jose Gonzales
mp3: "Heartbeats (Live)" by Jose Gonzales


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