Dermot Kennedy at Fonda

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Dermot Kennedy at Fonda

Apparently, last year Dermot Kennedy played in downtown Los Angeles to about 300 people.  This year, his tour ended at Fonda theater to about 1000 fans, most of whom knew all the songs.  I was shocked at the swooning over Kennedy.  At one point when he announced the title of the next song, a woman behind me said, "Oh shit!" and then squealed at the top of her lungs.  The adoration came from men too -- "We love you, Dermot!"  My favorite came in response to a shouted song request when another man boomed, "Play whatever you want, Dermot!"

setlist

"?"
"?"
"Shelter"
"Young and Free"
"Moments Passed"
"Lost"
"Boston"
"Run to You" (?)
"Power Over Me"
"Dancing Under Red Skys"
"An Evening I Won't Forget"
"Glory"
"After Rain"

musicians (same crew from NPR Tiny Desk concert)

Kieran Jones (keyboards/effects)
Jonny Coote (piano)
Micheál Quinn (drums)

My favorite pieces were the second song in the set with glitchy drums (which made me realize I should start catching song titles),"Moments Passed", "Glory", and "After Rain".  Some of the pieces had odd arrangements to me that felt like they didn't support the potential of the vocals (especially "Shelter").  I'm not sure yet if that's Kennedy's writing style, or if the pieces are just less mature.

An aside... what is with the sampling drum pads these days?  It feels like someone at Roland sent free SPD-Xs to every band I like.  In Dermot Kennedy's set, the samples were most often dark drum samples that gave way to live drums over the course of the track.  It was a fine use, but less successful for me than the more obvious, effected voice samples.  I guess it felt like many of those drum developments could have been done accoustically and some of the midrange percussion sounds just sounded out of place to me (maybe the reverb was different?).

Grace Carter opened the show and was less inspiring for me.  She's charming, has a great voice, and the audience liked her a lot.  For me though, the lyrics feel cliched, the backing musicians don't bring any quirky flare, and Carter's appeals for the clap-along rubbed me the wrong way.  It all felt like she was playing to social media, instead of loving the music.

Lastly a word about the Fonda theater.  This is a wonderful venue!  We've seen Polica and Autechre there and we'll continue going back!  It's big enough that the sound is nice, but not so big you feel disconnected from the stage.  There is a balcony with seats and a floor area for standing.  There are couches in the lobby and an outdoor patio.  It's really an ideal venue.  We sat in the balcony for the first time and loved it... except for the VIP tables in front of us where slimy music networking was happening.  Pay attention to the music!