I’ve been watching Greg Laswell perform for a couple years. The first time I saw Greg was an accident. I was at Hotel Cafe to see somebody else perform (notice I don’t remember who) and happened to still be at the bar when Greg took the stage. There were only a handful of people in the room at the time and it’s a good thing I was at the bar because the songs he was playing could depress even the happiest souls. Not that I’m advocating drinking as a band-aid for depression but, that night, it helped.
Considering the number of shows I see, I always pay attention when somebody moves me – when they can overtake my happiness or my sadness or my wandering mind – whether there are 5 people or 30,000 people at the show. I stuck around for Greg’s show and then wondered how long it would take for people to catch on, for him to sell out a room like the Hotel Cafe…
Well, all things considered, it didn’t take long at all. Greg started filling the Hotel Cafe toward the end of last year, and earlier this year he played 2 back to back sold-out nights at the Hotel Cafe. Then, on Thursday, August 6th Greg played to a sold-out crowd at The Troubadour.
Oh, The Troubadour. Some of my favorite performances have taken place at this venue. The White Stripes used to play 2-3 back to back nights at The Troubadour – and we’d go every year. Ryan Adams played there during the tour for Heartbreaker. The Strokes played there before the US release of Is This It. Queens of The Stone Age. Jackson Browne. Damien Rice. I’ve been seeing shows at that venue for 12 years. So it was really fun to see somebody, whose career I had watched build up to this point, play at a venue that has so much nostalgia, not only for me but for musicians and fans at large.
Elizabeth and The Catapult, a band I’d never heard of, took the stage first. Actually, there may have been another opener before them, but I wasn’t there for that, so relatively speaking, The Catapult was first. As I watched this group from Brooklyn captivate the audience with a fantastic performance, I thought about how amazing it must have been for them to play to a sold-out crowd at The Troubadour. I have a feeling they’ll be doing it again.
Up next was Greg. This was the last stop on his US tour. . . and he sounded better than ever. It’s interesting to watch someone play a small room and think that they’re really good. But when they finally play a stage that’s more their size, you realize just how good they are. (Note: the converse is also possible).