SHOW REVIEW: Blind Pilot and Dan Mangan at El Rey

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Photo by Rachel Fidler.
I started off October right this year. My suitemates and I headed out to Santa Ana on a whim on the 1st, having found out about this concert only days before, but it was the best decision we could’ve made. My new favorite singer, Dan Mangan, referred to on his website as a “fresh-faced folk singer from Vancouver, Canada”, was opening for Blind Pilot at the Galaxy Theater.

As a blog writer for KSPC, I got the chance to meet Dan and interview him. Besides being the sweetest and most charming person, Dan was eager to chat about the release of his new album, Oh Fortune, about his rise to fame in the U.S., and even about conspiracy theories surrounding the Denver airport. This innovative and brilliant musician, who during his early career toured the globe by himself at age 20 and has since then spent countless months in the studio and on the road, has finally seen his hard work pay off in his extremely well-received Oh Fortune.

Standing at the front of the stage during Dan’s set, I couldn’t help smiling as he grinned at the crowd, thanking us again and again for our attention, and serenaded us with his arching melodies and gravely energetic choruses. Dan had mentioned earlier that his backing band was really into experimental jazz, and their preference was clear throughout the set; the band was electric and displayed incredible musicianship. His final song of the evening, “Robots,” which was named Best Song and Best Vocals by CBC (Canadian Public Broadcasting), culminated in an audience sing-along. Dan jumped in the crowd, guitar and all, to help us sing the chorus: “Robots need love too; they want to be loved by you.” Overall, Dan showed LA that he wants to be loved by us, and by the end of his set, everyone was enthralled.

The highly anticipated main act, Blind Pilot, also recently released a new album, entitled We Are the Tide. They came onstage and instantly captivated the crowd. Though Dan and this Oregon-based band have similar folky qualities, Blind Pilot’s sound is truly unique. Their sweet, intimate, and upbeat songs had the crowd swaying and singing along to every word. Lead singer Israel Nebeker softly commented on having arrived in LA after driving all night, which elicited a “Speak up!” from an audience member and, with a sheepish smile, Israel said “Yeah, sometimes I mumble, I should probably just shut up and sing,” to the amusement of the band and the crowd. To top it all off, after being called out for an encore, Blind Pilot ended their set with a completely unplugged rendition of their most well-known song, “3 Rounds and a Sound”, off their debut album of the same name. Standing at the very edge of the stage, Israel and his bandmates began their masterpiece with the first line: “They’re playing our song.” Blind Pilot was certainly playing our song, and I got the chills as the audience swelled up with passion during the chorus as we all sang our hearts out to this beautiful piece. The woman behind me began sniffling towards the end of the tune, and I couldn’t help but be filled with emotion myself, surrounded by my friends and this beautiful music during a night I would never forget.

Blind Pilot is playing at the El Rey Theater on November 18th, 2011. I could not recommend them, or Dan Mangan, enough.
Go here to see more photos from the show!

Review by Rachel Fidler.

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