Frank Turner

It’s been two years since I’ve seen (let alone shot) Frank Turner live. Not sure how I’ve gone this long since he’s popped up numerous times for small surprise shows and what not around Los Angeles. I’ve always known him to be a great performer, so I knew tonight would be a reminder of how much I’d been missing since I last saw him on stage. What I didn’t know was that the entire night was packed with performers that would make the night incredibly special.

First up was Koo Koo Kanga Roo who I’d previously missed opening for Frank Turner due to Hollywood traffic two years ago. I figured I’d be in for a laugh but I didn’t know what it would really turn out to be. Koo Koo’s set was highly energetic and heavy on audience-participation. Yes, I did indeed laugh quite a bit throughout their set (there were songs about poo and uni-brows, how could I contain myself?!), but I was happy to see that I wasn’t the only one as people throughout the crowded venue were open to let loose and yell along to the call-and-response choruses. As if getting the crowd’s voices weren’t enough, Koo Koo jumped into the audience to fully engage everyone in dancing and singing. They even brought out a parachute to cover the crowd, reminiscent of one of my favorite memories from being a kid. While I could see their style of performance wasn’t for everyone, the majority of the audience definitely got involved and that’s what made Koo Koo Kanga Roo’s set so much fun. They definitely set the tone for the rest of the night.

Continuing with the theme of getting the audience involved was Skinny Lister. It took me a while to realize but I had actually seen this band 3 years ago while attending the Warped Tour BBQ at one of my local stops. They were posted up next to the BBQ grills playing songs and drinking with the others bands. It was an engaging atmosphere and I felt like they brought that to the stage tonight. With strong group vocals and a party-like stage presence, Skinny Lister had everyone’s attention. And if their on-stage antics weren’t enough, their off-stage presence was just as engaging – I had never seen (or even imagined I would) a double bass being played while crowd surfing. This band blew my mind and I’m looking forward to what the future holds for them.

Finally, Frank Turner took to the stage and the packed venue was electrified. Promising to play material that was new, old, and anything in between proved to be a crowd-pleaser. Although time period didn’t seem to matter much to the audience as every song had a number of people singing along. The set list was stacked and touched on every emotion you could think of. Turner offered some explanation to certain songs which always makes an artist’s work much more special when you know the origins. He was eventually left alone on stage to perform a few songs without the backing of the Sleeping Souls, something I had missed the last time I saw him (his doctor had warned against him performing while playing a guitar for fear of agitating his back issues). This offered the sense of an intimate performance despite the size of the venue. He was eventually joined by the Sleeping Souls to finish the set and even Koo Koo Kanga Roo returned to the stage to help keep the audience moving. This night was all about the relationship between the performers and the audience and there was no shortage of connections from start to finish.

Many thanks to Bryan from Koo Koo Kanga Roo for helping with the photo pass for tonight!