Allen Stone - The Social
It always seems to happen to me. A highly anticipated day finally arrives, and my body decides it wants to shut down. For months and months I had waited to see the amazingly talented Allen Stone for the second time. His last visit to Orlando was three years ago. For weeks I listened to his new album Radius on repeat, mapping out choreographed dance moves in my head to each soul wrenching arrangement, and belting out each word over and over in my car so when the time came I could show Allen what a fan I was singing in sync with him to his new material.
Most of that Friday was spent in bed, watching the Gilmore Girls in between naps caused from an exhausting week at work. Blurry eyed I looked at the clock in my bedroom and saw that it was 6:00 pm and I heard a roaring thunderstorm outside. All signs pointed to staying in bed and that’s what I did, until about 8 pm.
Allen was worth expending every amount of energy I had left. As I got dressed I felt more lethargic and longed for the companionship of my body pillow. Alas, I knew I had to press on. There was no telling how long it might be before he came to Orlando again and I couldn't wait another three years to hear that voice and feel all those good vibes again.
Allen hit the stage close to an hour and a half after I had arrived at the Social and just as I felt like my legs were going to give way and my body was going to give up he came out and my body was hit with a second wind of ferocious funk…the good kind... as he began his set with "Freezer Burn" a song off his new album.
When I met you three months ago
I said to myself, "Man, this girl seems cold"
Just cause you glitter doesn't mean you're gold
Just cause you're selling doesn't mean I'm sold
His extensive band barely fit on the small stage at the Social yet they all seemed to be able to get their groove on while Allen started down the road of endless jams getting the crowd two-stepping with him almost immediately.
This was not your average concert for many reasons.
For starters there aren't that many musicians out there like Allen. Talented, soulful, eclectic, and full of positive energy that transforms the room. When he addressed the crowd he made mention of no laptops on his stage, saying “everything that we bring to you is happening in the moment right here, right now”. A point repeated with his song “Fake Future”.
“What good is my microphone if I don't really sing?
What good is my music if it ain't really me?
Whose heart's beating? I'm on life support
Creativity is gone, music is the spark”
Another reason this was a concert like no other was the crowd. Orlando crowds can be very frustrating as many people seem to view a live show as just another excuse to go out, drink, and catch up with their friends and talk over the music. That was not the case with this group of Allen enthusiasts, and in my extensive concert going experience, that is a truly a rarity.
Everyone that paid $20 to see Allen seemed to have a deep rooted love for his music, his beyond talented musicians, and expressed that by singing along with every song. At one point Allen stopped belting soulfully when the crowd took over the song. Both Allen and his band seemed genuinely surprised and excited that this group of people, all different ages and races, were truly there for the music and giving all the love and energy they were expending right back to him and his fellow workers of funk. At one point he even said nothing like that had ever happened to him before and by the look on his face I believed him.
This Orlando crowd was there for the love of good music and their appreciation for the night was easily felt. Even more impressive is the fact that his new album had only been out for a few weeks, and the crowd sang along as though these were old Allen standards of albums past.
I think he knew that this was a crowd that respected live music and that could be why he gave his band a break and sat on the stage with his two backup singers, Jessica Childress and Dani Elliott, and sang an acoustic version of “I know that I wasn’t right” off his new album. He asked the man standing in the pit in front of him if he had a sturdy hand because it was going to be his job to hold the mic directly in his face for the entire duration of this song. He asked the crowd to be silent and I would say about 99% of them complied. Unheard of at any concert I have been too except the Civil Wars. The harmonies gave me goose bumps and the tone and rawness of their voices immediately made me want to apologize for everything wrong I’ve ever done in my life.
“Oh, well, I get so frustrated
Cause I hate being wrong
Energy gets wasted
Cause my head's far too strong
But in my defense
I know that I wasn't right”
Another treat was getting to hear Allen's cover of Gotye’s “Somebody that I use to know” single. Allen’s soulful version was a vast improvement on the original along with the addition of Jessica belting out a verse of her own and making us all fan ourselves from the sultry heat of her vocals. In that moment Beyonce did not exist. Patti La belle did not exist. Aretha who? There was only Jessica.
It was a feeling rarely felt at a live show, and with the exception of the unbearable couple near me that appeared to be on their honeymoon, literally touching each other the entire night – yes three hours of face stroking, back rubbing, kissing and other barf inducing acts of PDA that would have made Angelina & Billy Bob Thorton uncomfortable, it was pretty much the perfect night of live music
I know everyone has their own musical tastes, but it seems wrong that on the same night, just blocks from where we were all experiencing a show we will remember for the rest of our lives, the arena was filled with thousands of people watching New Kids on The Block; and if you took a drive down I-4 there was a sold out show for Third Eye Blind. Living in nostalgia is all well and good if that's your bag, but why not experience something not only new, but richer and fuller than anything else you could have spent your hard earned money on - while creating new nostalgic memories minus the bad acne, over-teased hair and memories of teenage awkwardness.
There should have only been one option that night – the best possible option of seeing a group of talented and humble musician’s give you much more than $20 worth of music for 2 hours.
I ran into a man I didn't know today at the East End Market; I recognized him only from the show because you could not miss him. He was jamming out to every song and had the most joyfully satisfied look on his face the entire show. I went up to him and told him I had seen him at the show vibing and the same smile appeared on his face. We were both still living on Cloud Allen and we both desperately needed more.
All musicians should take notes from Mr. Stone and create real music and give their fans a real experience. If you don’t believe me, search #allenstone on Instagram and read the countless posts of people claiming it was the best concert of their lives. I doubt you will see the same being said about any other show that was played in Orlando that night. I'm just gonna assume Stephan Jenkins didn't go into the pit at House of Blues and hug 15 people like Allen did. Although I'm pretty sure that would be a hard pass for me. Sorry Stephan.
I forgot about every ache and pain I had during his show, not to mention every care I had in the world. Isn't that what good music is suppose to do?
If you missed it, there is some decent footage shot by The Sober Goat that can be seen on this YouTube. If Allen comes to your town, by all means take the time to see him. You have never heard a voice like his. I can guarantee you this. Please go. Even if you don't know one song. You won' regret it.