Los Angeles Got Down and Stayed Down With Thao Nguyen At The Skirball Cultural Center REVIEW: Thao & The Get Down Stay Down @ the Skirball 7/21/16
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On a warm evening in an open courtyard, a devoted crowd of Angelinos gathered at the first concert of the 2016 Sunset Concerts series at the Skirball. Guided by its Jewish tradition of welcoming everybody, from all walks of life, The Skirball Cultural Center has been welcoming guests for 20 years and during the summer, they welcome all to free shows in their open courtyard, complete with a reflecting pond inhabited by croaking frogs.
Right away, it’s clear why a setting like this is a perfect, intimate venue for Thao and the Get Down Stay Down. Thao’s lyrics are intimate even when she borders on screaming fervent lyrics, while ripping vibrant guitar riffs mixed with an array of sounds – from electronic to hip-hop to country. Some of it is melodic and serene and some of it can only be categorized as punchy, rhythmic noise that pierces the air and the crowd.
When she takes the stage, she was warmly met by an enthusiastic reception from fans as the sun set behind the Skirball building; complete with a museum and counter service restaurant serving delicious, affordably priced food from hardy sandwiches to tasty snacks, beer, wine, and cocktails. Try the oversized soft pretzels.
Those familiar with this San Francisco band know that Thao and the Get Down Stay Down don’t waste time with unnecessary banter and un-relatable stories. Instead, they dive head first into their medium-sized, but engaging catalogue of indie tunes.
In between songs, Thao’s banter was somewhere between adorable and inviting, but don’t let that fool you. For when she shreds her guitar on tracks like The Evening or belted out “Oh no! But I loved you the most,” on Fool Forever (with the gritty inflection of an angry protester causing the crowd to call back), she proved she can go knives out. The group’s songs are anthemic, filled with dissent, and often about heartbreak caused by disappointing lovers and disappointing social norms. She’s made singing off key a beautiful way of expressing emotions that are equally off key.
The concert goers were privileged to experience Thao and the Get Down Stay down for free on a relatively temperate evening for July and it’s only a matter of time and tours before Thao’s fan base goes from filling courtyards, to filling larger halls and venues around the world. Just another reason to love Los Angeles. The Skirball Cultural Center’s Free Summer Concert Series continues until August 25, 2016.
The Skirball Cultural Centert has a series of FREE concerts this summer every Thursday from July 21 through August 25th. CLICK HERE to check out ther musical offerings this Summer!
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Constantin Preda is a Los Angeles based TV Producer, Music Video Director, and Film/Video Assistant Director who enjoys traveling the world, photographing people, attending concerts, and camping with his mutt, Sandy.