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Guitar Center Celebration With Anderson .Paak, A-Track, Sheila E, Saturday November 3rd 2018

Anderson .Paak

 

Guitar Center Hollywood, the gigantesque music-store which thrones on Sunset Boulevard, had a grand re-opening 60 years after its first opening, and the center was holding a series of events all week long. I attended 2 of them, including the ceremony inducting iconic musicians into the Guitar Center RockWalk, followed by a concert which shut down Sunset Boulevard on Saturday night… I am not sure everyone was happy about this part but it was sure a lot of fun with a few Hollywood moments.

On Friday afternoon, Steve Jones was hosting his popular radio show, Jonesy’s Jukebox, in the guitar room, and despite the fact that the announced guest, Todd Rundgren, was a no-show because his flight from Australia got unfortunately canceled, it was a fun gathering with Sex Pistols’ Paul Cook, the Cult’s Billy Duffy, and Fred Armisen, playing a few acoustic classics.

But the big show was on Saturday night, with the induction of three drummers in the Guitar Center Rockwalk, which has immortalized the handprints of famous musicians in concrete since the ’80s. Hosted by Beats 1 host Zane LoweDrum Workshop Inc. (DW Drums) founders John Good and Don Lombardi plunged their hands in concrete, and were almost immediately followed by percussionist/drummer extraordinaire Sheila E. In a very Hollywood moment, the always stunning Angela Bassett introduced the famous drummer, and the humble Sheila, who didn’t want to bore the crowd with a lengthy and over-prepared speech, just thanked everyone before plunging her magic hands in the black wet cement.

Guitar Center had announced a massive headliner for the night and since the store mostly drains a crowd of classic rock guitar guys, there was a sort of surprise when it was revealed that Anderson. Paak would be this headliner. Maybe these people expected some good old Foo Fighters/Gun ‘N’ Roses combination, but these same people may be living in the past, while Guitar Center definitively made a statement by booking someone like the young hip-hop/R&B artist.

Even more surprising was the performance of famous DJ/record producer/music label executive A-Track, who is especially known for having worked on several of Kanye West’s albums. he showed us his talents of turntablist for an hour, just before Anderson .Paak, without the use of any instruments on stage as everyone would presume… it may have been a weird choice from Guitar Center, which offers an impressive choice of instruments, ‘do people really need all these guitars?’ had joked Fred Armisen the day before… But the famous store sure wanted to prove it belonged to the present and maybe to the future.

The crowd around me was young and hip-hop oriented (there were talks about the upcoming Rolling Loud festival) and you could tell these young people were here for Anderson .Paak and his band The Free Nationals, and it was especially exciting since the young artist is about to release a new album, ‘Oxnard’, named after his hometown. I remember seeing Anderson at Amoeba a few years ago, among a very modest-sized crowd, and now he was shutting down a whole block of Sunset Boulevard, and draining a very large crowd… in just a few years, he has become a huge star, ready to release his third album, produced by Dr. Dre and featuring a very impressive series of collaborations from Kendrick Lamar (on‘Tints’ a moonwalking R&B song that he performed minus Lamar ), Pusha T, Snoop Dogg, J. Cole, Q-Tip…He is living the Hollywood dream, and he seemed to be well aware of this, especially when he told us he used to come at Guitar Center just to practice, not being able to afford anything. ‘Of course, it’s different now’, he added.

He premiered a lot of new material from ‘Oxnard’, and he recently told Rolling Stone this about the new album: ‘This is the album I dreamed of making in high school, when I was listening to [JAY-Z]’s The Blueprint, The Game’s The Documentary, and [Kanye West’s] The College Dropout.’ One thing is certain, Anderson .Paak injects many styles into his smooth but dynamic R&B and if he spent the first songs rapping with an impeccable style at the edge of the stage, he also demonstrated some very impressive drumming talents for a number of songs, disappearing behind his drumset for a large portion of the show, and leaving his band fronting the show… but no matter what he was doing, the energy went to the roof with the help of his excellent musicians and a female dancer/singer from Brooklyn

‘I just wanted to have a party man!’ he told us just after a few songs, and it was a real party with fog canons and plenty of multicolor confetti thrown over the crowd but his commanding and friendly presence was the real deal, galvanizing people with his rapid and confident flow. After a few songs, it’s easy to realize that Anderson is much more than a rapper, he demonstrated it with ease, leaping from a style to the next, with luminous keyboards, funky basses, jazzy parts and songs rapidly going in many directions. It was a dance party, a joyful bouncing hour engulfing many genres and eras while uniting hip-hop and Parliament Funkadelic, he rallied the crowd and brought Oxnard in the heart of Hollywood.

Anderson .Paak

A-Track

Angela Bassett

Anderson .Paak

Sheila E

John Good and Don Lombardi

Anderson .Paak

Billy Duffy, Paul Cook, Steve Jones, and Fred Armisen

Anderson .Paak

 

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