I went to see Small Black at the Roxy in Hollywood on Friday, October 23. This was my first time going to a concert solo, so I was excited to see how the night would unfold. A solo act opened for them, followed by psych-pop threesome, Painted Palms. So far, flying solo appeared to be a good choice. The only awkward times really were between the sets, which I spent just grabbing another drink or on my phone…and then it began to sink in that the only one who thought I was being awkward was myself, and I put the phone away. There was something nice about not having to talk and having a full-on music experience. I hadn’t been to the Roxy in years. In fact, the last band I saw there may very well have been my friend from high school’s punk band, whose name I’m blanking on at the moment. I even struck up a conversation with a young man wearing deer antlers, which I wouldn’t have done had I brought a friend, and went up to an older gentleman whom I recognized from the Craft Spells show at the Echo about a month prior. He was clutching his collection of Small Black records no doubt awaiting for a moment in which he could get them all signed. He did the same thing at Craft Spells and it was adorable. He commented on my good taste in music. In addition, a man just started talking to me who turned out to be a musician as well and was new to the area. To measure my experience in social success, I earned one new Facebook friend and Instagram follower.
I love going to shows where you’re so close to the band you can feel their sweat dripping on you, and this was the case for Small Black’s set, as I made my way to the front of the stage. They played a lot of their new songs off “Best Blues” with a few classics woven in. Singer and keyboardist, Josh Kolenik’s voice was ethereal yet energized, as he displayed much hand and leg movement. He was clearly in his zone and was engaging with the crowd, while the guitarist shoe-gazed most of the night. The energy sustained from the opening act to Despicable Dogs, to the encore in which they played my favorite song of theirs, Photojournalist, as part of their two-song encore. I was elated, and I sensed the crowd was as well. Before leaving, I decided to check out the merch table, and, to my excitement, Josh was there personally handling the transactions. I struck up a brief conversation with him and shared my excitement in seeing them live and in the songs they played. I purchased Best Blues on vinyl, and to my great appreciation, he signed it for me. It’s safe to say I went home feeling anything but the blues.