Decorative pillows and earthy tones covered the stage. Wicker baskets, paper lanterns and strings of large round-bulb lights adorned the set in front of an excited crowd. At 7:30 sharp, Andy Grammer casually walked out on stage and greeted Louisville’s Brown Theatre.
“What’s up Louisville…did I say that right?” says Grammer. “Hot as hell, is it always this hot?” he asked.
Yes, it most certainly is Andy. The humidity here in Louisville may not have been so welcoming this late August night, but the fans certainly were.
Grammer got his set started with “Pocket,” where he showed lots of first-time listeners his vocal range as well as some impressive beat-boxing skills interspersed throughout the song.
Grammer was not at all shy and shared many heartfelt anecdotes with the audience during the show. His second song “Love, Love, Love” Andy said, was a “cheesy-ass love song” about pillow talk. All of Andy’s songs in one way or another make you want to bob your head and tap your feet, “Love, Love, Love” was no exception.
Grammer is backed up by a very talented band that seemingly shares his charm and enthusiasm.
Grammer got serious for a moment and introduced his next song. The song “Ladies” is not quite what you’d think, but rather a song that is inspired by Andy’s late mother who passed away a little over two years ago. The song calls out to women – “You are beautiful, you don’t even have to try.” The catchy tune is a nice tribute to Andy’s mother and recognizes the inner beauty that women have.
After having gotten to speak with Andy a couple of times and finally getting the opportunity to see him perform live, it is extremely obvious how real he is. Real, meaning he’s the same guy before and after stepping on the stage. He doesn’t hide anything up his sleeves; what you see and hear is what you get. His music really reflects his upbeat and positive character.
Before playing his song “Biggest Man in Los Angeles,” Andy talked about the beginning of his music career. About how he first started playing on 3rd Street in Santa Monica, California with an open guitar case, CD samples and a makeshift sign that read “Make change, I trust you.” He sings,
“Oh I'm home, I'm right where I belong
And there's nowhere else that I'd rather be
Because those moments on the street
When the crowd would rock with me
I felt like the biggest man, the biggest man in Los Angeles…”
Then, after playing a brand new song about how girls can pick you up and “take you away” when life gets intense, Andy says, “A lot of happy songs, let’s do a sad one…It’s not about me though, some friends.” Andy put down the acoustic guitar and went to the keyboards where he showed a different, more somber side of his music with his song “Miss Me.”
Even Andy’s so-called “sad” tunes still seem to have a tone that encourages hope and a positive attitude towards a negative situation.
Continuing with his charming between-song banter, Andy showed off a little bit more of his humorous and theatrical side with a story about an 8th grade breakup that he says is a true story. Grammer recalls singing the Boys II Men hit “End of the Road” to a girl over the phone to no avail and proceeded to act out the phone call and sing the song by the popular R&B band to the tune of his guitar. Grammer’s vocals and enthusiasm really shined during this particular song and garnered several crowd-solos and the occasional “Ow!” from the women in the theatre.
“I like love songs, I think that if you can find a way to do a love song that’s never been done before, that’s even cooler,” said Andy.
Andy’s next song was a love tune “Build Me a Girl,” about a soul that comes down from the heavens to re-join earth. The soul asks God for a companion – the perfect girl – to join him.
Heading back to the keyboards, Andy played his hit “Fine by Me.” I have to say this was one of my favorites. The soulful tune had a heavy bass beat and the type of hook that gets stuck in your head for days.
“Can I take a picture with you guys real quick?” Grammer asked the Louisville crowd out of the blue. “I like to do this thing like ‘Where’s Waldo,’ except it’s ‘Where’s Andy.’”
Andy ran out into the 3rd or 4th row of the crowd and sat down for a pose while his bassist snapped a photo. The break for a Kodak Moment was nothing short of random, but I liked it. Andy clearly likes to connect with his audience and share a part of him that can’t be shared through the speakers of your car stereo.
With that, Andy re-took the stage for his fan-favorite “Keep Your Head Up.” Asking for some help from the crowd, Andy had hands clapping and the audience singing his solos along with him. The infectious song was one that Andy says he wrote to himself as encouragement after a long day of performing on the streets.
Finally, Andy finished his set with another fan-favorite, but not one of his own. Andy’s bassist and drummer left the stage and Andy began to play a familiar tune on his guitar. With some beat-boxing, sound effects and the first line, “We’ll do it all…Everything…on our own (beat box)… If I lay here… (more beat box)…If I just lay here,” I figured it out. Andy did an outstanding one-man-band rendition of Snow Patrol’s “Chasing Cars.”
It was a great way to end an already impressive show. There is no reason why this cool cat shouldn’t continue to keep his head up for years to come. Superb vocal talent with cross-instrumental skills and a knack for engaging his audience in a personal way, he will be headlining a tour of his own before long. Andy brought a big smile to a lot of faces at Brown Theatre Wednesday night.
Did I mention that immediately following his set, he ran to the theatre lobby to sign and take photos with hundreds of fans? A class act, that is sure to keep audiences smiling.
Photo courtesy of: Josh Newton and Shore Fire Media