IT'S ALL GREEK TO ME: Cavetown - Bittersweet Daze 7-20-23

Reviewed by  Claudio Vernight , Music Critic

I don't have to remind anyone from SoCal that LA has been hot, with a side of hot. So, it was a relief when things cooled down on Thursday night just enough to enjoy a concert at the Greek. But it didn't stay cool for long.

            "Bittersweet Daze" is a traveling mini-festival with young stars and even younger fans. This show was one of the earliest of the Greek Theater's line up to sell out (early Spring) and when I locked my car in the G lot, I knew instantly why.

            The peels of screaming young girls cascaded off the surrounding hills of Griffith Park. And it wasn't even the headliner, Cavetown. From the start of the show, these fans were engaged and sang along with every song of all four acts. The show started with Australian YouTuber, Grant Perez, a 21-year-old whose bedroom recording of "Cherry Wine" went certified gold in 2021. The screaming was reminiscent for this rocker of Beatlemania. If he swayed his hips they went nuts. But also, the innocence of the early Beatles (Hold Your Hand, Happy just to Dance with You) is everywhere in his (and the rest) lyrics. All he wants is to "Dance the night away, Baby, we could try to make the world spin slower."

            Screams moved up the decibel meter with Ricky Montgomery, a Los Angeles musician who hit it big on TikTok during the pandemic. Heavier and fuller, his "Mr. Loverman" had the crowd on their feet singing every word. And these fan girls can sing and emote. At times, they were the show.

            The last opener was a bashful girl named Maia who has branded herself "mxmtoon" (pronounced M -X -M - TOON.) While all her songs weren't in her range, it didn't matter because the name of the game was sincerity. She did elicit cheers when she asked the crowd who was with her in her LGBQTIA+ crusade. Most of the audience cheered because they also knew her trans anthem, "No Faker," was next up. Her words were touching the hearts of these kids.

            The crowd, 5900 strong and all teenagers, clearly came for Robin Skinner, aka Cavetown, a well-bred 24-year-old Englishman from Cambridge. His parents taught him guitar at age eight and by last year he had 8 million Spotify streams and 2.2 million YouTube subscribers with over 488 million views. Let that sink in. His fans are constantly streaming his performances. They cannot seem to get enough of his pleasant voice and whimsical lyrics. Last year he released his fifth LP and earlier this summer he shared the stage at the massive Glastonbury Festival in UK with the retiring Sir Elton John.

            At noon before Thursday's performance at the Greek, fans began lining up, one with a tent (for the sun.) They all came for his hits. And Robin didn't disappoint. I have to admit, "Lemon Boy" got under my skin with its unique take on friendship:

There once was a bittersweet man  and they called him "Lemon Boy" He was growing in my garden and I pulled him out by his hair like a weed

And like weeds do he only came and grew back again                          So, I figured this time I might as well let him be                                          

Remember, almost six thousand kids were singing every word of this ballad. It got even cuter:

So, Lemon Boy and me, we just gotta get along together                                               I helped him plant his seeds and we'll mow the lawn in bad weather   It's actually pretty easy being nice to a bitter boy like him                        So, I got myself a citrus friend

His band did an admirable job, filling the arena with sound with only drums, bass and guitar. Of course, everyone these days (at least all four acts on Thursday) played along with a track. That means they had pre-recorded enrichment. Gone are the days of bemoaning the Milli Vanilli faux pas. Yo, everybody plays to tracks. Not every song but when necessary. Get used to it.

            "Fall In Love With A Girl" was Cavetown with his acoustic guitar. Very vulnerable yet very honest. His soft vocals fit the mood perfectly and guitar player, Austin Thomasand, was original with a definite Edge edge, filling the park with cascading echo-y riffs and deep long power lines that build. 

            "I Miss You Already" had a magical Owl City vibe and with the sparkly lighting effects, had the girls hypnotized. 

            Who can argue with a poet who writes, "Life's too short to worry about what we got wrong, so hug your friends"? Heck, I became a fan and stood on the long merch line for a tee shirt. The backstage roadies told me that most bands come with semi-tractor trailers with equipment and a box truck with their merch. "Bittersweet Daze" had a semi full of merch and the long lines attested to that. 

            And as I left the Greek for my car, the cool of the evening in the park washed over me. Turning around, I saw the heat rising from the arena. It's a brave new world out there. We had Ed Sullivan introduce us to the next big thing. Now it's TikTok and YouTube, but the screams and the teenage angst are the same.

Posted By DH Magazine on July 21, 2023 02:35 pm | Permalink