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Miguel At It’s A School Night, Monday January 25th 2016




The small club Bardot, which hosts It’s A School Night every Monday, was probably the hottest ticket in town last night, a secret headliner had been announced over the weekend, without revealing his or her identity like a mean tease, but, on Monday night around 6 pm, everyone knew that alt-R&B singer Miguel was headlining the night… ‘I hope you are already on line’ I read on Twitter… What? On line at 6:30 pm to see someone who would only perform at 11:30 pm? I ended up going there around 8 pm and despite the long line it was almost too easy to get in. I saw four bands before Miguel and got a spot very close to the tiny stage, next to the VIP section.

As the night was progressing, the club got more and more packed as I expected, but you have to know it is a tiny place and I suppose a lot of people got stuck on the sidewalk.

Ohio rockers Nick D’ and the Believers were first and they conquered the crowd with their uplifting songs and big-voice choruses. The music was very catchy with a foot-tapping, hand-clapping urge, bright voices and a tiny keyboard on a pedestal, I even got a slight MGMT vibe on some of their upbeat songs. One thing is true, they were working very hard at spreading their enthusiasm, encouraging the crowd to clap, being very happy to diffuse even more sunshine in LA… ‘it’s gonna be a hell of a night said the singer’, and he was right!.

And since the night was very eclectic, Australians indie rockers High Highs followed with fragile falsetto vocals, gleaming guitars and shimmering high pitch keys, Their music was certainly atmospheric, even ethereal, something to put you in a very specific mood, just between a happy road trip and a nostalgic thought about last summer. I think I recognized a song or two – good for them, they got a few commercial placements – although most of the time the music was floating in melancholia with a slight Ariel Pink feel, minus the eccentricity.

London electro-pop trio HAELOS was also a good surprise, with lots of keyboards and electronics, and many organic layers of instruments and voices. They were a large ensemble who built the type of grandiose sound, for which the term soundscape must have been invented. There were some reminiscences of Massive Attack on a popper day, going from dark drama to textures filled with heavy beats and percussion, while the voices stayed soulful and even gospelic. It was their LA debut, they have been invited to Coachella this year and they will release a new album ‘Full Circle’ around the same time (on March 18th via Matador Records). So you will certainly hear about them.

Singer/songwriter/producer NoMBe told us he only had 30 minutes to impress us, but he definitively did just this, after his first song. The young guy came on stage with a sort of colorful robe/kimono, looking half African prince half samurai,but he didn’t keep it for very long. He was playing with a rare assurance a unique brand of R&B served by his strong and soulful voice as well as a confidant presence. There was a lot of diversity on his songs, getting some funk in the keys on a song, or venturing from his pop soul to explore more rocking paths when he played guitar and invited another musician on stage,… in any case he did stay very sexy all set-long. The group of girls next to me, who were impatiently waiting for Miguel, got very excited by NoMBe’s performance, especially when he displayed more energy, bouncing around repetitively…well, he even had a song called ‘Sex’. Noah McBeth, his real name, is actually Chaka Khan’s godson and also a native of Heidelberg, Germany, which didn’t prevent him to feel right at home in Los Angeles with a song entitled ‘California Girls’, something totally understood by the girls around me… ‘He is fiiiiinnnnne’, said one of them.

But it was nothing compared to the level of female excitement when Miguel arrived on stage a bit after 11:40…. I must have been standing next to his fan club, and all the young sexy girls were very friendly and very talkative, but they sure got hyper excited as soon as they saw Miguel, and I could see why: we were so close while late-comers probably couldn’t see anything. But there were at least two late-comers who obviously got the front row treatment, Chance the Rapper and actress Chloe Grace Moretz sat just in front of the stage a few minutes before Miguel started with,… ‘Space Oddity’, a Bowie cover? I didn’t expect this, but it was a nice surprise, immediately leading into one of his own songs ‘Waves’, and this is when the girl choir took over. The rest of his short and acoustic set was a sort of sing-along, all the girls around me were singing, and sometimes covering Miguel’s powerful and charming voice, ‘You have to excuse me if I get loud!’ had warned me the cute girl behind me, even before Miguel’s guitarist had played the first note. But Miguel was gleaming with joy, very happy to be the prince charming of the night, and when we are at it, he looked a bit like Prince at time. He saluted Chance and Chloe, he kissed his beautiful girlfriend, and he charmed everybody looking super hot with his cute smile, ripped jeans and golden teeth. I am not even a fan of R&B, I have always the impression the lyrics are a bit made on the spot, which is ridiculous I know, but Miguel was serenading the whole parterre and sometimes engaging in long monologues about LA encompassing both dreams, hope and despair, about everyone’s attention span getting shorter, about trying to do something real, fully appreciative to have the opportunity to perform in such a small venue. Miguel’s charm appeal was undeniable and the crowd enthusiasm so real, that I felt lucky and privileged to have been in the middle of this packed jam club on a Monday night.


Space Oddity 
(David Bowie cover)
Simple Things
Arch & Point
Hollywood Dream

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Nick D’ and the Believers


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High Highs


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More pictures here.

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