Friday, November 8, 2019

Live Shows: Pokey LaFarge and Jake La Botz, Brighton Music Hall, Allston, MA 11/6/19

Photo via Facebook
I've had the chance to see Pokey LaFarge in various incarnations over the last eight years or so, but I've never seen a fully solo performance. While being in between albums and bands, he decided to do a solo tour with fellow Midwesterner Jake La Botz, who is also performing solo. While both fall firmly into the folk/Americana genre, the pair have very different sounds which complemented each other perfectly.

First up was Jake La Botz, taking the stage two minutes early. Playing seated for his set, La Botz went through ten of his songs about addiction, struggle, and heartache. He has this downtrodden, lived in sound in his music, but somehow keeps things uplifting. His is more on the style of folk and country meets early rock 'n' roll, which went over very well with the still entering crowd. Despite being seated for the entire performance, La Botz is an incredibly captivating performer. He stays laid back, but puts on more of a rock show than a coffee shop folky. 

Pokey LaFarge brought another side of the same spectrum of folk music. Without a backing band, his songs were just stripped down to a bare minimum, with LaFarge playing the role of amiable troubadour. Even solo, he's an energetic performer and a showman at heart. He kept the audience fully invested in his performance, either leading a sing-a-long with "Wanna Be Your Man," having one spontaneously start during "The Devil Ain't Lazy," or singing at the front of the stage without amplification for "Goodbye, Barcelona." While sprinkling a number of new songs from an upcoming album throughout the set, he adopted a "one for me, one for you" rule, following up new songs like "Orange Blossom" with long time fan favorites like "Central Time." Not that he needed to, as the new songs were as well received as the classics. Overall he played twenty one songs for well over an hour, and the audience, while well satisfied, could have happily stayed for twenty one more.

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