Jen Awad Brings Life To The Hotel Cafe Stage With Feisty Performance
LOS ANGELES, CA- With the Delta Variant rearing its nasty little head from Covid’s shadow, I’ve been trying to make a concerted effort to catch as many shows as I can, especially shows by friends who are finally getting the chance to get back on a stage.
During the initial lockdown, I had the privilege of working with Ms. Jen Awad on a project of hers doing some paperwork. During our work together, I got to spend some time on the phone chatting with her about non-work related stuff, and I realized something: she’s as cool, humourous and personable one-on-one as she is when she’s rocking a stage. I’ve caught several of her performances, and her charismatically magnetic performances were always the draw that got me longing for more. Getting to discover Jen Awad the person, however, made me appreciate her performances, and music, even more, because it highlighted the fact that the Jen Awad on stage is 100% genuine and authentic.
When I heard that Jen had scheduled a show at the Hotel Cafe, I immediately penciled it into my calendar.
When I arrived at the venue, I could feel the excitement in the air. The Hotel Cafe had just re-opened its door after being shuttered for 16 months, and having such a landmark Hollywood venue open up was a hopeful signal that life would be returning back to normal. The maskless smiles in the room reinforced that hope. The masked smiles did as well.
Jen’s set started a few minutes late, and with a “hard” end time set by the venue (apparently, a private party had rented the room after her performance… that “private party” was Dave Chapelle… lol), I was a little concerned that Jen wouldn’t get through her entire set. Jen had 11 songs on the docket, and it was- at least for me- a debut a lot of songs that I’m assuming she’s prepping for her next EP/Album. Of all of the titles I spied on the setlist, only three were familiar to me, and one of them was a (surprising) cover.
At the end of the day, however, you truly don’t need to know Jen’s music to love her live performance. Her sound and musical style are obviously great (otherwise, why would I even be there?), but it’s the energy and attitude that she brings to the stage that really pulls you in. Whether she’s crooning, scowling, or begging, she’s putting her all into every emotional element of the music, only taking momentary respites between songs to snap a witty remark or banter with the crowd to get their juices flowing more than they already are.
Jen had a lot of friends in the crowd, and she fed off that energy. Accompanied by Eric Jackowitz (drums), Celeste Tauchar p/k/a “Talker” (keys), Roseann Adlrete (guitar), Genna Projansky (bass), and Grethel Bonilla Daniels (guitar), Jen powered through her set giving me new song after new song for me to digest. The first song I instantly recognized was the song that I worked on, “Tsunami”, a dreamy ballad that she released earlier in the year as a single which has already amassed over 70k streams on Spotify.
The next song I recognized caught me off guard: a cover of Smashing Pumpkins “Bullet With Butterfly Wings”. She gave that song a blues rock tint that fits her mold, and she made that song her own. I wish I had captured a little bit of that song on video because I remember that excited feeling I got when realized it was a cover.
When the “hard cap” end-time had been reached, Jen smirked at the audience, revealing her rebellious side, assuring us that she wasn’t going to be cut short. With that, she dove into my still favorite song of hers, “Basic Bitch”. With sweat flying off her body as she punched her fists into the air, the energy in the room, or at least up at the front of the stage where I was stationed, hit a peak and had me hitting my own sweet spot; a sweet spot where joy and music and life coalesced, and nothing else in the world matter. Hopefully, we’ll all have more moments like that in the weeks and months to come.